This week’s decision to postpone AUSTimber2020 until November because of the devastating bushfires in East Gippsland has been met with wide-spread industry and community support. The decision to reschedule AUSTimber2020 from April required careful consideration of the impact on commitments already in place for the show, including to regional tourism businesses. Source: Timberbiz
However, ultimately the AFCA Board and the Planning Committee concluded that rescheduling would enable the timber industry to continue supporting bushfire response, recovery and salvage efforts in the coming months.
Australian Forest Contractor Association general manager Stacey Gardiner said the bushfire crisis would have a “lasting impact on our industry and should be the focus over the coming months’’.
“As a result, we have decided to reschedule AUSTimber2020 until November,” she said.
AUSTimber organisers said yesterday the response and recovery efforts to the bushfire crisis were significant and many people and businesses from the timber industry had been directly affected or were working tirelessly to support communities and regions across Australia.
“AUSTimber is hosted in the central part of the Gippsland region and while we have been fortunate to remain safe, our concentrated support and thoughts continue to be with the communities and areas within our region and across Australia who have suffered loss and are continuing their bushfire fighting efforts,” Ms Gardiner said.
The program, as advertised, will be shifted to November 4-7.
The Australian Forest Products Association yesterday reflected general industry opinion in saying it recognised that the decision to postpone the conference was a major decision but “one that we fully support”.
“It recognises the reality that there are still many serious bushfires still burning and thousands of firefighters on the front-line protecting communities and properties,” the AFPA said.
The Mayor of Latrobe City Council Dan Clancey said that while it was disappointing that AUSTimber2020 has been rescheduled, it is understandable.
“Latrobe City Council fully supports the decision to hold this significant event at the most appropriate time of the year, the decision to reschedule is the best outcome for stakeholders, the community and industry partners,” he said.
“Latrobe City Council is proud to host the southern hemisphere’s largest timber industry show and we now turn our attention to planning for November.”
AUSTimber site manager Travis Healey said the focus now was “like many in our industry”.
“We are sending our work crews and equipment where they are needed to support communities impacted by the devastating bushfires,” he said.
“We were assisting the firefighting efforts in Queensland and now all of our crews are in north east and south west of Victoria.”
The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and the State Member for East Gippsland Melina Bath both acknowledged that the decision to postpone was the correct one.
“I want to thank the logging contractors who’ve worked side-by-side with our fire fighters to provide immediate relief and protect lives,” Mr Chester said.
“While it may be months before we have a complete picture of everything that’s been lost in the flames, we do know this disaster will impact the timber industry, as it will many others, not least the tourism sector.
“With support of all levels of government, Gippsland and its industries will prosper again.”
Ms Bath said the decision was disappointing but a responsible one.
“I totally believe it’s the right call under the circumstances with such tragedy and hardship and disaster in Gippsland and right along the eastern seaboard,” she said.
AUSTimber Coordinator, Ms Dionne Olsen said tickets which have already been purchased will be honoured in November and the program remains unchanged for the new dates.
“We also want to recognise and thank our supporters, exhibitors and partners for their positive and proactive response to the decision to reschedule the show,” she said.
“It is their commitment to the success of the show in November that means our communities will still have the opportunity to benefit from more than 10,000 national and international attendees visiting Gippsland.
“AUSTimber is the largest timber industry show in the southern hemisphere and we have already commenced planning to facilitate a seamless transition to the future show in November.”
The program for the event remains unchanged with field trips on the Wednesday and Thursday, a welcome dinner for Thursday evening, and then the two days of the in-forest show.