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Andrews ‘hanging timber workers out to dry’ in time for Xmas


Melina Bath

Victoria’s State Government has failed in Parliament this week to guarantee Opal Maryvale Mill stand downs won’t become permanent redundancies. Source: Timberbiz

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath demanded answers on future job security for workers at Opals Maryvale Mill, from the Andrews Government’s Minister for Agriculture.

Ms Bath said Ms Tierney refused to provide a guarantee the future security of the 200 Maryvale Mill jobs in question.

“Instead of guaranteeing job security, Minister Tierney spruiked a workers support service scheme it had ‘rapidly activated’ for mill workers that included employment and mental health support services.

“These are activities that would not be needed if workers were not facing the real prospect of permanent redundancy – they’re cold comfort to the workers who have been stood down.

“Labor just don’t get it – Latrobe Valley locals are not satisfied with Labor’s response of ‘minimising job impacts’, they want long term job security.

“It’s Christmas time and once again Daniel Andrews is hanging timber workers out to dry with his catastrophic timber policy and contempt for timbers workers.

“The prospect of losing 200 local manufacturing jobs is a disaster for these individuals and their family’s livelihoods.

“The reverberations of Labor’s appalling timber policy are being felt right through our local community.”

The Nationals have reiterated earlier demands that the Andrews Government step up and protect local timber manufacturing jobs at Opal long term.

Opal Australian Paper said last week that the lack of VicForests’ wood supply continued to create challenges for the Maryvale Mill.

As a result, Opal Australian Paper is continuing to undertake extensive investigations into alternative wood supplies.

The company said that this was a complex situation and to be viable the alternative supplies must match a range of strict criteria including species, availability, volume, cost, logistics and long-term supply.

It said that to date, suitable alternatives had not been identified, however it would continue to work through this process as quickly and thoroughly as it can.

“While we are pursuing substitute wood supply possibilities, this difficult situation is expected to impact white paper production on or around 23 December,” the company said.

“There are currently no stand downs in place, however it is anticipated there will be temporary stand downs for some workgroups which may commence in January 2023.”

Ms Bath said where there is a will, there is way to secure the future of jobs at the Maryvale Mill, however the there is no will from Labor.

“The Andrews Government has failed to source any additional timber supplies to get Latrobe Valley Opal workers back to work and recommence local manufacturing of Australia’s flagship copy paper,” said Ms Bath

“It’s no secret that VicForests as a State Government owned authority is constrained by the Andrews Government’s ongoing refusal to close the loopholes in the Timber Code of Practice that enables activists to take out legal injunctions to halt legal logging activities.

“Labor is only interested in pursuing its green ideology – it continually fails to stand up for our Latrobe Valley industries and workers.”