Victoria’s opposition leader, Michael O’Brien speaking at the first of what may be many such protests, stated that he would put the facts on the table about native forestry in Victoria and his party would push for an upper house inquiry in 2020. The proposed Legislative Council inquiry into the Andrews’ Government decision to shut down native forestry by 2030 was welcomed by the strong crowd of forest industry workers. Source: Timberbiz
On the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House on 26 November, were hundreds of Victorian forestry workers donning caps with the slogan Dan, don’t destroy timber jobs with some holding placards about their business or their location.
Parliamentarians representing both the National Party and the Liberals also wore the caps and stood with the workers and the associations that support the industry.
Ross Hampton, CEO Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) spoke first and reiterated that the industry was prepared for a long and hard fight.
“Native forestry is completely sustainable and could have gone on providing the timbers for Melbourne’s homes and offices indefinitely,” he said.
“Instead Victorians will have to add to the already ridiculously large import figures which sees Australia import timber products worth more than $250 million each month. The decision is not supported by the best global science or practice.”
Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien spoke next and reaffirmed that if elected at the next state election he would reverse the closure decision. Both he and Mr Hampton said that Mr Andrews had been ‘sold a pup’ and it was just the wrong decision to make.
Following Mr O’Brien was the National’s leader Peter Walsh who said that not only was the decision ‘bloody disgraceful’ and it needed to be reversed, but also spoke of the contribution the forestry industry makes to firefighting in Victoria.
Tim Johnston of VAFI also spoke briefly and then Stacey Gardiner of the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) interviewed Chris Stafford, one of AFCA’s members who is a third generation logger in East Gipplsand.
He said that he employed around 10 men directly and the closing of the industry ‘means a lot to them they’ve got families, mortgages’. He also touched on the fact that some of his cohorts from East Gippsland were unable to attend today as they were currently fighting bushfires in the region.
His final words in closing were that the Andrews government had not engaged with the industry prior to making the decision ‘he did not engage with us, we’re voters’ and then someone yelled from the crowd, ‘and taxpayers’.