There is clearly widespread support for the Victorian Government’s move to overhaul the timber code of practice. The aim is to deliver certainty for conservationists, the forest industry and the Conservation Regulator. The code plays a crucial role in regulating Victoria’s native timber industry.
The review improves and addresses the code’s deficiencies, aiming to set out a clear, internationally recognised definition of the ‘Precautionary Principle’.
The ‘precautionary principle’ means when contemplating decisions that will affect the environment, careful evaluation of management options must be undertaken to wherever practical avoid serious or irreversible damage to the environment; and to properly assess the risk-weighted consequences of various options.
The review certainly gives the Government the opportunity to end the green litigation that had held up supplies of native timber, especially when supply shortages were hitting housing construction.
But many say it still does not go far enough to secure wood production.
Shadow Minister for Forestry and Member for Narracan, Gary Blackwood, says the review is well overdue but may be even too late as sawmills were beginning to run out of supply.
And Timber Towns Victoria is right in calling on the Victorian Government to provide clarity and certainty for the timber industry, workers and communities.
“We have known for a long time that the Timber Code of Practice was problematic,” Timber Towns President and Deputy Mayor of Glenelg Shire, Cr Karen Stephens said.
“We trust this review will close existing loopholes and give thousands of workers the certainty they need for their jobs, families and communities.”
Cr Stephens is dead right; certainty, more than anything at the moment, is vital for Victoria’s towns reliant on the native timber industry.
Meanwhile the frustration over the choice of European timber over local product for Melbourne’s new underground Anzac metro station justifiably grows.
German company Hess Timber company has been chosen over leading Victorian manufacturer Australian Sustainable Hardwoods to supply the timber. Hess will do great job, no doubt.
The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says Gippslanders are owed an explanation.
And possibly some answers.
Such as, is ASH also owed an apology?
Such as, why wasn’t ASH given the job?
The answer to that question can only come via a probity review of the decision, as suggested by CFMEU’s manufacturing division.
Even though the State Government wasn’t directly involved in the decision making process it can order a probity investigation.
Don’t hold your breath.