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Friday analysis: Brazen bulling and shameful conduct from WA Government

Mark McGowan. Photo: Sky News

There are only so many kicks in the teeth an industry can cope with. In Victoria of course there was the pre-Christmas Supreme Court decision which effectively shut down VicForests’ entire native timber operations.

The court order cites that any coupe with one or more greater glider sightings – or a greater glider observed within 240 m of a coupe – will be shut down.

As Nationals Gippsland East MP Tim Bull bluntly described it, it was just another kick in the head for the beleaguered Victorian native timber industry.

The Victorian Government was the first to announce that the native timber industry in that State would be wound down and end by 2030.

So far, the State Government has pretty much ignored all demands, pleas and anything else that could be used to help deliver a change in policy.

The same now of course applies in Western Australia where the State Government there made the shock decision last year to end harvesting of native forests by 2023.

If any credit lies with the Victorian Government’s woeful decision is that it has not really added that much insult to injury.

That hasn’t stopped the WA Government though.

When the original announcement was inexplicably made, the Premier Mark McGowan made a commitment by to honour existing contracts of supplied sawlog until that date.

A commitment. Pretty straight up one would have thought.

However, as we know, in the past week or so WA’s sawmills have been told that the Forest Products Commission will fail to meet these obligations in 2022.

And then it turned really nasty. The mills were told that any attempt to seek legal redress over any breach of contract will result in them missing out on any compensation from the Government’s $50 million transition package for logging businesses impacted by the native logging ban.

Now there could be exclusion clauses in the contracts. There could be. But such clauses have not been mentioned. And one would expect that such an exemption clause would have been mentioned. But they weren’t cited. By anyone.

Instead, what we have – according to Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam – is brazen bullying and shameful conduct.

Further, he said, the WA mill owners are now being held to ransom.

Another word springs to mind, but respect for the law probably prevents use of it.

As pointed out above, the Victorian Government has so far not gone down that track.

The WA government seems however, to have had no such qualms.