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Friday Analysis: Native forestry closures ‘dictated by science’ but not supported by science

WA Premier Mark McGowan

Science – and the apparent lack of it – seems to continue to be something of a sticking point at the core of the decision by the governments of WA and Victoria to shut down the native timber industry. Source: Timberbiz

In Victoria, despite numerous calls from both within Parliament and outside, the State Government there has flatly refused to detail the science behind the decision to end the industry by 2030.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes earlier this year foreshadowed Labor would not comply with a parliamentary request to produce scientific evidence on the ban on the grounds it would be time consuming for the department’s bureaucrats.

The Minister claimed “there are approximately 45,000 pages that … would take up to 2.5 years to collate, consider and obtain advice” at a cost of $500,000.

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh, mill workers and owners voiced their disbelief at being denied the truth behind a government decision that’s putting thousands of Victorians out of work.

“Without any scientific evidence to support it, Labor’s native timber ban is nothing more than a cruel, politically-motivated vendetta against hard-working Victorians,” Mr Walsh said.

To say the Victorian Government’s attitude is hardly good enough is a huge understatement, but there it is.

The WA Government has clearly taken Victoria’s “no” approach to heart over the same issue.

Despite bodies such as Forestry Australia calling for the Western Australian Government to release scientific evidence in justification of its decision to end native forest harvesting nothing has been forthcoming.

Forestry Australia President Bob Gordon said the association was concerned the decision to end native harvesting by 2023 was not based on science demonstrated poor understanding of WA’s world-class forest management practices and would result in increased imports of wood products from countries with lower management standards.

But it seems we will never know.

Minister for Forests Dave Kelly has stated that: “The decision by the State Government to end native logging, at the end of 2023, really is dictated by the science”.

But both have failed to justify their native forestry closures with science after reportedly ignoring requests by the Federal Government for the data underpinning their decisions.

The WA arm of WoodSolutions, Timber Insight, has launched a petition directed to the Western Australian parliament, asking for it to explain the State Government’s decision to close the native forest timber industry.

Among other things, that petition asks for a review of the science behind the State Government’s claims on native forestry.

The odds of getting a reply don’t look good in the current political climate, but it is worth maintaining the pressure on the State Government.

After all, unlike Victoria, the WA government hasn’t flatly dismissed supplying it.

The petition can be found at