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Friday analysis: D’Ambrosio’s forestry review is missing in action

Minister D’Ambrosio

There is an old saying, particularly in political circles, that no review or inquiry should be commissioned unless the result is known in advance. This is because, all too often, many reviews or inquiries are held to justify the position held by the commissioning authority. Source: Bruce Mitchell

In political terms, the results of a review or inquiry are proudly broadcast as proof that the position held, usually by the incumbent government, is the right one.

Does the inverse apply? If a review or inquiry for some reason does not produce the required outcome, are the results withheld?

In July last year Victoria’s Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio commissioned the review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production last July due to a spate of legal challenges against VicForests in Victoria’s Supreme Court and High Court.

A key aim of the review was to “minimise the risk to short-term supply obligations arising from third-party litigation”.

The review has been completed and according to Narracan MP Gary Blackwood the review has identified a number of issues with the code around clarity, accuracy, enforceability, inconsistencies and ambiguities around policy and ecological integrity.

So where is the glowing press release, the ministerial statement lauding the wonderful work of the review?

Nowhere to be seen.

Ms D’Ambrosio apparently refuses to release it.

Ms D’Ambrosio is also apparently refusing to implement the recommendations of the review.

It would be easy – in fact it is very easy – to draw the conclusion that the review does not sit well with the State Government’s plans for Victoria’s native timber industry.

Particularly given the mea culpa delivered by Victoria’s Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas last month that the much-lauded transition plan for the native timber industry was, well, up the creek.

Ms Thomas told The Age that plantation trees planted now will not be ready by 2030 and that they will not be replacing native forests tree-for-tree.

That astonishing admission comes after 18 months of Premier Daniel Andrews, and his ministers, repeatedly promising that there would be minimal job losses when the Government ends native forest harvesting in 2030 because it will transition sawmills to plantation logs.

Given the turmoil that little slip must have caused in the corridors of power it is little wonder that Ms D’Ambrosio’s review has gone missing.

It is time the Victorian Government started talking honestly to the people of East Gippsland.

The Government’s silence only serves to generate mistrust.

And there is certainly enough of that about already.