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Premier Andrews keeps forestry industry in the dark

The peak industry bodies representing scores of businesses that employ thousands of men and women in the front line to be impacted by Premier Andrews’ poor policy announcement to shut down Victoria’s native timber industry are seriously questioning the government’s commitment to engage with industry. Source: Timberbiz

A joint letter signed by the chief executives of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA), and the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) on 12 November sought a meeting with the Premier but it remains unacknowledged.

A month later, and with Christmas literally just days away, the organisations fear the government’s rhetoric on jobs is just hollow words.

“The announcement of the closure of a sustainable industry, certified to world’s best practice, blindsided those who work in our Victorian businesses,’’ Chief Executive of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said.

“Victoria’s native forest industry uses four trees out of every 10,000 and every tree used is regenerated and regrown by law. There is no ‘old growth’ harvesting.

“Without Victorian native timber, Melburnians will have to get their hardwood floors and stair treads and other appearance grade timbers from other places and often that will be from places without the same high level of sustainable forest management.”

Chief Executive of AFCA, Stacey Gardiner, said there was strong opposition to this announcement and ongoing uncertainty was placing enormous stress on forestry contractors and their employees.

“We have growing concerns around the serious mental health implications and we need genuine support,” she said.

Chief Executive of VAFI, Tim Johnston, said the continued failure of the Andrews Government to engage with industry was a clear signal of its disregard for regional businesses and the communities they support, as well as the thousands of downstream processing jobs.