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Friday analysis: More job losses for WA towns as gov’t wants them to adapt

Parkside Nannup

Once again, the Western Australian Government’s inexplicable decision to end hardwood harvesting by next year has led to jobs, and a town in shock.

Two weeks ago, it was Nannup where 45 people lost their jobs when Parkside Timber effectively closed the doors on the mill there.

Today Parkside’s mill at Manjimup shuts its doors with 20 more people to lose their jobs.

The State Government claims there is on-the-ground support to workers in both Nannup and Manjimup to help mill workers with support payments and retraining.

Newly appointed Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis said she hoped business would adapt and keep operating.

“No other timber mill has said they’ll be stopping processing or stopping deliveries,” she told the ABC.

Gee, thanks Minister.

WA’s Shadow Forestry Minister Steve Martin wasn’t impressed.

Mr Martin said the forestry industry in WA was already shutting down and the transition package for workers and communities was lacking in detail and delivery.

“At a time when the industry is in desperate need of support to help transition workers and businesses away from hardwood harvesting, the McGowan Labor Government clearly has no plan in place,” he said.

“For well over a year the forestry industry and related sectors have been calling upon the Labor Government for answers but have been ignored at every turn.”

Of course, all this is politics. It’s in the towns like Nannup and Manjimup where the realities exist.

Manjimup Shire president Paul Omodei took aim at the government for driving the decision.

“This is what happens when governments make political decisions about sustainable industry,” he told the ABC.

“For the government to do what they’ve done, without a social and economic impact study, is an absolute disgrace.”

Meanwhile of course the WA Government has clearly indicated where its priorities lie.

More land has been cleared for bauxite mining than by the timber industry in Western Australia’s South West over the past decade and Alcoa is awaiting permission to mine vast areas of jarrah forest in Western Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the company has a longer-term challenge to gain environmental approval to clear more than 9000 hectares of forest.

As the Chairman of the WA Branch of Forestry Australia, Brad Barr, said it seems that the Government tells us to “listen to the science” except when the science contradicts its own policy objectives.

He could well have added that the WA Government should be listening to the 65 or so people who have lost their jobs in Nannup and Manjimup in the past two weeks.