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Friday analysis: Greenbushes Mill closure was not ‘business as usual’ Premier McGowan

Protesters at the Wombat State Forest. Picture: Wombat Forestcare Facebook page.

The devastation that will be caused from Parkside’s decision to close its Greenbushes Mill in Western Australia this week with the loss of 50 jobs cannot be underestimated.

That 50 jobs will be lost from a township with a population less than 400 will be devastating.

Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes president Jenny Mountford told the ABC it would take a toll on people’s lives.

“That’s a devastating blow to any town and particularly a small town,” Ms Mountford said.

“It will definitely have an impact.”

This is a mill that for 70 years has employed locals for generations.

Blame has been laid fairly and squarely at the feet of the WA State Government and its decision to cease native forestry by the end of next year.

When the Premier Mark McGowan announced the decision, he said very clearly that it would be “business as usual” to the end of 2023.

It has to be acknowledged that the decision to close early will give employees the opportunity to access support services and apply to receive compensation payments.

But the big problem is that the Greenbushes closure is the tip of the iceberg.

Parkside Group also owns facilities in Nannup and Manjimup, which for now will remain open as will many other mills.

But for how long?

Meanwhile, in Victoria logging contractors have had a “win” over protestors.

Activists on Wednesday attempted to disrupt salvage logging in the Wombat Forest.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation commissioned VicForests to undertake extensive surveys and arrange salvage harvesting of windblown timber which has been established to be a major fire hazard.

The Wombat Forestcare says removing the logs was unnecessary because they did not present a fire risk and wants the fallen trees to remain in place as habitat for native wildlife instead.

The group was also concerned at what they saw as unacceptable damage to the forest caused by the harvesting operations.

The contractors say they aren’t going out of their way to do more damage and were not taking anything out that was not already damaged.

Game Management Authority staff intervened, and the activists were removed from the site.

Let’s hope that this is a taste of what is to come in terms of letting contractors get on with their jobs.