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Friday analysis: Victoria’s native forestry suffers another kick in the head

Tim Bull

Next thing the Minister will have protestors on the steps of parliament because we are importing (timber) from countries with far less oversight and killing orang-utans – Nationals Gippsland East MP Tim Bull.

It’s about time someone put it as bluntly as that.

He went on: “What I would like is for someone to explain to me where our hardwood timber is going to come from if we close down our native hardwood sector. The Greens are very silent on this in Parliament, they call for closure of the sector, but have no answers as to where it will be sourced from.”

Again, it’s about time someone put it as bluntly as that.

Mr Bull was of course commenting on the pre-Christmas Supreme Court decision which effectively shut down VicForests’ entire native timber operations.

The case was brought on by Kinglake Friends of the Forest and Environment East Gippsland against VicForests.

Australia’s charity register shows Kinglake Friends of The Forest and Environment East Gippsland has 37 volunteers.

The decision comes at a time when, as the Weekly Times’ Peter Hunt put it most succinctly, timber workers have faced repeated disruptions from protesters invading logging coupes in what has become widely known as “green lawfare” cases brought against VicForests to halt harvesting.

The court order cites that any coupe with one or more greater glider sightings – or a greater glider observed within 240 m of a coupe – will be shut down.

Timber industry representatives say this will mean almost every coupe, as the gliders are so common.

And here’s the rub – it is understood such sightings do not need to be substantiated in any way.

Spot what you might think might have been a greater glider, report it, and there you go. A timber coupe is shut down. The fact that, as a result, workers will be stood down and lose their livelihoods doesn’t even seem to enter the discussion.

That 37 people can use the Court system to shut down an entire industry in this way, and by these means, should be the subject of vigorous debate in parliament. In Victoria that is highly unlikely to happen any time soon.

Mr Bull, again, refreshingly bluntly described it as a kick in the head.