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Darren Chester visits ASH to show support

Darren Chester at ASH

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says he is committed to continuing to expose the hypocrisy of bans on the native hardwood timber industry after visiting Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in Heyfield. Source: Timberbiz

Mr Chester said ASH was ‘continuing to make an outstanding contribution to the social and economic life of Gippsland’ despite the illogical decision by the Labor Government to ban the harvesting of native hardwood timber.

“All credit goes to the team at ASH who have worked hard to secure timber supplies from other sources and continued to invest in new technology that allows the business to successfully compete with imported products,” Mr Chester said.

“I spoke in Federal Parliament again last week about the madness of shutting down the timber industry when it’s so important for our region and the nation.

“It is hypocritical of city-based Labor, Greens and Teal MPs to be calling for a nationwide ban on native timber harvesting when the alternative is taking timber for countries with poorer environmental protocols.

“I am at a loss to understand how it is a positive environmental outcome to transport hardwood timber long distances just because the Victorian Government has made a decision based on political science, and not environmental science.”

Mr Chester said ASH was a world-class business that had been forced to adapt to the changes in state legislation, and he would support efforts to secure Federal Government funding for further improvements to facilities.

“ASH has already adapted and modernised its worksite to employ people with mobility issues, including wheelchairs, and a higher proportion of female staff, which is a credit to the business, which continues to employ more than 200 locals,” he said.

“The company has invested in modern technology to develop products which are now being used on major construction projects throughout Australia, including in several capital cities.

“For example, ASH produces MASSLAM, which is a glue-laminated mass-engineered timber solution that is helping to decarbonise the construction sector and contribute to our national goal of achieving net zero by 2050.

“The Victorian native hardwood timber industry has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. It’s now a sophisticated, world-class and environmentally sustainable industry that supports Australian jobs, protects our communities and wildlife from bushfires, and reduces our carbon footprint. It should never have been attacked by the Labor Party, but now we have to play with the cards we’ve been dealt.

“That means continuing to extract every bit of value out of the wood supplies that are available and investing in the equipment to make it possible for a sustainable business to prosper in the future.

“If the Federal Government is serious about its ‘Made in Australia’ policy, it would partner with companies like ASH, which are already manufacturing products that are in high demand.”