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Fury grows over native logging ban

Yesterday’s announcement that native timber logging in Victoria will be phased out by 2030 has left the industry in shock and people in regional areas such as Gippsland reeling.The State Government in Victoria revealed its plans yesterday for the current level of native timber available for logging to be reduced from 2024-25. A financial assistance package for the industry will be substantial and is expected to reach well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Source: Timberbiz

It includes setting aside funding to establish 50,000ha of new plantations in a bid to offset the loss.

VicForests CEO Monique Dawson said that, while challenging, the decision provides opportunities for VicForests to develop and trial new species for plantations and new approaches to growing trees to support better timber products and respond to the future impact of climate change.

However, politicians in the east of the State are seething and not holding back with the Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath describing the decision as a “serious kick in the guts for hardworking Gippslanders”.

And Nationals Gippsland East MP Tim Bull  saying that regional communities have had “an absolute gutful of arrogant Andrews putting politics first and country people second”.

Cr Dale Harriman from Latrobe City has expressed his fears of what the shutdown will do to regional economies.

“We know there is 5000 people involved in the timber industry in Latrobe City,’’ Dr Harriman said.

“But it’s the flow-on effect; it’s the people selling the truckies their diesel, it’s the guy doing mechanical repairs on the equipment out there harvesting, it’s the local takeaway shop.’’

Industry groups including the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers, the Australian Forest Contractors Association and the Australian Forest Products Association have all condemned the move.

“It’s clear the government has bowed to pressure from vocal environmental groups and turned its back on listening to those within the industry and those impacted by the flow-on of this devastating decision. Victoria has a long and proud native timber history and it is integral to many rural and regional communities that depend on it,” VAFI CEO Tim Johnston said.

The AFCA believes the decision flies in the face of supporting regional jobs and economies, sound policy and a long-term sustainable strategy.

And Bob Gordon, Federal President of the IFA, said the ban was “poor public policy with clearly predictable and undesirable outcomes”.

Cr Harriman said regional councils affected would continue to fight the state government over the ban.

“But when it comes down to it the State Government will continue to ignore us as they have ignored the entire Gippsland area,” he said.

“They just don’t care.

“We’ve been saying for some time that the State Government has sold us out for inner city Green votes,” he said.