Hope for suc­cess­ful out­come for ASH

Australian Forests and Timber - - IN THE NEWS -

AS THIS edi­tion of Aus­tralasian Tim­ber was be­ing pro­duced there was hope that the pos­si­ble planned clo­sure of Aus­tralian Sus­tain­able Hard­woods' (ASH) Hey­field Mill could be averted. ASH is the main em­ployer in Hey­field with over 250 work­ers.

The row be­tween ASH and the gov­ern­ment is over fu­ture log sup­plies for the na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised busi­ness.

The ASH board on 8 March 2017 stated that as a sign of good faith the ASH board agreed in Jan­uary to put a hold on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the forced clo­sure pro­ce­dures due to the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to sup­ply the logs needed to main­tain a vi­able busi­ness.

"ASH had been at­tempt­ing to dis­cuss tim­ber sup­ply with the An­drews gov­ern­ment for two years to no avail. On Jan­uary 17 we were shocked at the of­fer from the gov­ern­ment of less than half our cur­rent sup­ply level.

"ASH at that time of mak­ing the de­ci­sion to hold off on clo­sure, pro­vided gov­ern­ment with a road map to move this in­dus­try from the 1939 re­growth ar­eas of the for­est through into plan­ta­tion over the for­ward 20 to 25 years.

"In Jan­uary the gov­ern­ment had sought a de­lay of four weeks and we agreed to pro­vide five. The ASH board met on 7 March and con­sid­ered a re­quest to a fur­ther de­lay of seven days be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion of the forced clo­sure ac­tions.

ASH were ad­vised that the gov­ern­ment was close to a de­ci­sion on be­ing able to pro­vide the nec­es­sary sup­ply and con­di­tions that could mean the mill would re­main open and be­lieved that the premier Daniel An­drews was per­son­ally com­mit­ted to sav­ing the jobs of the mill’s work­ers.

How­ever when the of­fer was re­ceived it was re­jected by ASH as not sus­tain­able and would see the busi­ness lose over $10.5m per year. Ad­di­tional pro­pos­als were then put by ASH to the gov­ern­ment but these were not ac­cepted.

Mean­while more than 100 work­ers from the mill ral­lied in Mel­bourne (15 March) to try to save the com­pany and their jobs.

The ASH board sched­uled an ex­tra­or­di­nary board meet­ing on 16 March to de­cide the fu­ture of the mill.

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