Australian Forests and Timber

Voices not being heard by government

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TALBOT miller Alistair Hull says he is feeling like he has had the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath him by the Victorian Government. The same could probably be said about the entire forests and timber industry in Victoria.

In a period of just weeks the industry has fallen victim to endangered animal protection plans based on reportedly dodgy science, a massive expansion of parks and reserves in Victoria’s Central West, all enveloped in the shadow of regional forest agreements that have dramatical­ly failed.

And then it got worse, with news as reported by Daily Timber News, that the Victorian State Government is road testing its plans for closure of the native forest timber industry in that state via a series of meetings labelled Community Ideas for Victoria.

There can be little doubt the push to lock down the state’s forests is being driven by

the environmen­tal lobby.

And there can be little doubt that the Andrews Labor Government owes the environmen­tal lobby big time.

But it would be easy to belt the environmen­talists.

Where is the voice of the Labor Party’s friends at the CEFMEU – members of which are widely employed in the timber industry?

Where is the voice of the Government and its Agricultur­e Minister Jaclyn Symes?

Where is the voice of industry representa­tive bodies in mainstream media?

It’s a hard sell for the industry. Most Victorians living in metropolit­an areas have little or no knowledge of how the native timber industry works and yet they use and depend on timber products daily.

The fact it employees 2500 people and is worth $770 million and manages the forests properly doesn’t sell when other lobbies can show pictures of endangered species and lush forests to promote shutting down the native timber industry.

This time, though, the industry may just have the general public on its side.

Four-wheel-drive clubs are beginning to realize that if the Victorian Government punts the loggers out of State forests, then they may be – probably will be – next. And then the bushwalker­s, and the campers, and the horseback riders, and the list goes on.

They will all be making their voices heard on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne on August 27.

It’s time the Victorian Government listened and confirmed balanced forestry as a vital regional industry, which requires certainty of supply to produce a carbon friendly natural product used by all Australian­s.

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