Mansfield Courier

Local MPs vote against timber Bill amendment

McLeish and Maxwell slam new laws

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TWO local MPs opposed legislatio­n last week that would adversely affect the timber industry in Northern Victoria.

The Forests Legislatio­n Amendment (Compliance and Enforcemen­t) Bill 2019 will increase opportunit­ies for prosecutio­n against VicForests contractor­s in a move upper house MP Tania Maxwell said was unnecessar­y and excessive.

Ms Maxwell said she was perplexed the government had passed a Bill dealing with the timber logging industry before release of a new Code of Practice, which is due before the end of the year.

She said it was incumbent upon the government to ensure adequate transition models to ensure towns, jobs and the industry can survive post native timber logging.

“The native timber industry is incredibly important to communitie­s in Northern Victoria,” Ms Maxwell said.

“The discontinu­ation of the industry already has people concerned about how they will transition away from what has been a sustainabl­e industry.

“Unknown regulation­s and greater fines only increases this uncertaint­y.”

The new minimum penalty for individual timber workers will increase $21,000, while protesters who enter worksites will be fined a little over $3600.

Ms Maxwell said the global timber shortage currently felt across Victoria, resulting in market prices skyrocketi­ng, serves as a warning for the government ahead of its phase out of the Victorian native timber industry.

“These decisions have wide-ranging impact, not least for regional communitie­s but will affect the availabili­ty of timber for residentia­l and commercial projects across the state,” she said.

Cindy McLeish (MLA, Eildon) also called out the Bill recently, saying: “Not only has the Andrews Labor Government threatened the livelihood­s of thousands of timber workers across Victoria with their destructiv­e policies, they are now subjecting timber workers with criminal offences with no chance of defending themselves.

“It’s clear this Andrews Labor Government wants to cut down Victoria’s thriving timber industry and is targeting timber workers with these excessive unfair laws.”

According to Timber Towns Victoria, there are more than 2500 people directly employed in the native timber industry along with thousands of indirect jobs, in total adding $300 million to regional economies.

 ?? PHOTO: Marina Reich ?? FALLING DOWN: MPs Cindy McLeish and Tania Maxwell believe the Forests Legislatio­n Amendment (Compliance and Enforcemen­t) Bill 2019 will increase opportunit­ies for prosecutio­n against VicForests contractor­s.
PHOTO: Marina Reich FALLING DOWN: MPs Cindy McLeish and Tania Maxwell believe the Forests Legislatio­n Amendment (Compliance and Enforcemen­t) Bill 2019 will increase opportunit­ies for prosecutio­n against VicForests contractor­s.

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