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Friday analysis: Piecemeal support from Victorian government still fails to cover costs

The Victorian Government’s decision to boost support for timber workers, sawmill operators and their communities in the wake of the end to the native timber industry is more than welcome.

The government may have indeed acted willingly, and the negotiations have obviously been handled well by former Australian Forest Contractors Association general manager Carlie Porteous.

Minister for Agriculture Gayle Tierney said the government had listened to the timber industry.

The expansion of the Victorian Forestry Worker Support Program has increased worker top-up payments from up to $120,000 to $150,000 and allocated extra payments to workers over 45 years old.

The Australian Forest Contractors Association believes the revised transition package goes some way to increasing certainty for the people most affected.

That is true.

But the package still clearly has its faults.

As the VFPA points out it clearly fails to address the issue of mill owners, for example, who invested hard-earned cash into new facilities in the belief that the industry would continue until at least 2030.

And Gippsland East National MP Tim Bull says that while the additional support for industry workers shows some progress, it is long overdue and lacks detail.

And of course, as AFCA general manager Tim Lester points out, best way to sustainably manage the forest estate is with industry providing well-regulated services that balance out the needs of the community and the environment.

And it seems that’s what the Victorian Government isn’t interested in.