Forest and Wood Communities Australia wants the Andrews Government to close the loophole in the Sustainable Forests Act which has enabled activist vigilantes to devastate the livelihoods of regional Victorians. Source: Timberbiz
Unlike the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Section 347), the Timber Act fails to specify just who has the authority to take legal proceedings for even the most minor breaches.
“It’s a loophole which was exploited in the Supreme Court at the end of last year as part of a well-orchestrated attack on timber communities by self-interested activist groups,” FWCA managing director Justin Law said.
“It has crippled timber supply when we need it most and is putting hundreds of Victorians out of work as contractor crews are stood down and mills close.”
Mr Law said it was an embarrassment for the Andrews Government which expressly promised timber supply until the 2030 end date for native timber harvesting.
“It was bad enough that Victoria’s Labor/Greens fell out of step with global thinking on sustainable forestry by announcing the end of native timber harvesting,” he said.
“But by leaving open the back door and giving power to vigilante anti-forestry activists, they are failing to keep their promise of ensuring supply until 2030 unhindered by vexatious litigation.
“It is an appalling double standard that could be simply fixed by introducing the clause from the Environment Protection Act into the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004.
“Or is it part of the plan to get activists to do their dirty work?”
The Supreme Court action levelled at Victoria’s timber supply agency VicForests late last year is seeing timber production grinding to a halt.
“The premise for this latest round of vexatious litigation is to protect the ‘critically endangered’ Greater Glider,” Mr Law said.
“Yet the Greater Glider is apparently so prevalent, particularly in forest regenerated after being previously harvested, that the activists are arguing that no timber production can occur without impacting their habitat.
“Is it only us which sees the outrageous lie in all of this?”
Mr Law said the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has recognised timber production as an important climate change mitigation tool.
“It is only the Australian Labor/Greens which seems unable to see the benefits of sustainable forestry and is more interested in appeasing inner-city, Greens-voting activists,” he said.
“It is a global embarrassment and we’re now seeing Bunnings importing timber which has no environmental certification at all.
“When will the Premier see reason on forestry or at the very least stop lying to timber communities about their future.”