In January 2020, a picture of fifth-generation logger Brett Robin was featured in Victoria’s Herald Sun newspaper.
The picture is of Brett with an injured koala he rescued during the dark days of the massive bushfire around Mallacoota.
His job was to fell dangerous trees and clear debris that blocked roads and isolated communities during the devastating fires.
He had got the call up, as forestry workers often do during fires.
It came days after his own property in Buchan, a holiday home he lived in about five months a year, burnt down.
As of today, 11 November 2022 – Remembrance Day – Brett is effectively out of a job.
His job is gone following Justice Melinda Richards’ ruling that VicForests pre-harvest surveys were inadequate, and it was not doing enough to protect two possum species – greater and yellow-bellied gliders.
The subsequent order shutting down logging is effective as of today, and according to VicForests CEO Monique Dawson the order is permanent, and comprehensive.
“You feel like just curling up in a ball and hiding,” Brett told the Weekly Times.
It’s all so unnecessary.
Victorian Forest Products Association chief executive Deb Kerr pointed out in July this year that Victoria’s Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio could end the legal lockup of native forests by spending $100 gazetting Greater Glider possum protections into the Code of Practice for Timber Production.
And she rightly predicted that the minister’s failure to act meant that it had been left to the Supreme Court to decide what protections should be put in place.
Gary Blackwood, who is standing down as the Member for Narracan in Gippsland at the November 26 State election, said the government had been lobbied for months to adjust the Code of Forest Practice so that it reflected exactly what has been in place to protect the Greater Glider for many years.
So simple it seems to fix, so simple to save the livelihoods of people across Gippsland.
But nothing from the State government apart from a statement from Ms D’Ambrosio’s office which said that “protection of Greater Gliders is complex, and any changes require proper assessment”.
But surely the protection of jobs for people like Brett Robins should take priority.
The fact that is seems it doesn’t is unforgivable.