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WA government threatens mills not to seek legal redress

Premier Mark McGowan, Dave Kelly Minister for Forestry and Jade Sanderson Minister for Environment

WA mills have been told that any attempt to seek legal redress over any breach of contract would result in them missing out on any compensation from the Government’s $50 million transition package for logging businesses impacted by the native logging ban. Source: Timberbiz

The State Government’s shock decision last year to end harvesting of native forests by 2023 was met with a commitment by the Premier Mark McGowan to honour current contracts of supplied sawlog until that date.

However, Shadow Forestry Minister Steve Martin said there had been multiple instances where the Government has told mills they will receive just half their contracted tonnages, with at least one mill receiving just one third.

“Any timber business that challenges Forestry Minister Dave Kelly’s arrogant decision have been threatened with missing out on any compensation package,” he said.

Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said he appalled by the brazen bullying and shameful conduct of the WA Labor Government.

“We are only a fortnight into the New Year and Labor has already broken another promise to timber businesses,” he said.

“You simply cannot trust the word of Labor when it comes to forestry.

“First they shut the industry down without consultation, and then they hold it to ransom by threatening to remove compensation packages if businesses stick up for themselves against this unconscionable behaviour.”

The WA Government has so far batted away questions over letters sent to mill owners.

“Minister Kelly’s handling of this vital industry has been a disgrace. No consultation, no explanation, no plan for the future, no concern for local jobs and now threats for raising concerns about a manifestly unfair deal,” Mr Martin said.

“Labor has failed to deliver contractual promises made to WA’s timber industry despite Premier Mark McGowan promising to fulfil current contracts.”

Mr Martin said the State Government had proven it is not committed to WA businesses, leaving the WA timber industry high and dry.

“The Premier and Forestry Minister have added insult to injury for the WA timber sector by failing to deliver on the contracts for logs in 2022,” he said.

“The government has to stand by the contracts that are in place and not further cut timber supply to the timber mills in WA’s South West.

“The communities already reeling by the Government’s shock decision to shut down hard wood logging have been dealt another blow by this latest betrayal,” Mr Martin said.

“Contracts are in place. The mills rightfully expected a certain amount of timber this year under a longstanding agreement with the government and now find those contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”

Senator Duniam said the State government in WA was pushing the industry into an unviable position to try to force them out.

“Just as they have done in Victoria,” he said.

“The arrogance and blatant disregard for hardworking people in regional areas is a disgrace, and the Labor party should be ashamed of themselves.”