Adjournment – Timber Industry

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:55): (517) I am continuing on my theme from reports during my adjournment. My adjournment matter this evening is for the Treasurer, and it relates to the Treasurer because it is about uncapping the cap on the haulage and harvest forest contractors compensation. This actually cuts across at least three different ministers – the Minister for Environment in terms of the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, the Minister for Agriculture in terms of redundant VicForests contracts – but all of it has to do with funding, so I am directing my request to the Treasurer.

We have seen that there is a draft report out for compensation to the native timber harvesters who are being forced into closure. We see that there are some major flaws in this. Certainly one of the main ones is in relation to option 2, where the government should look at taking the market value of very expensive equipment and machinery and the auction value now – the market value in 2020, the auction value now – and paying the fair difference. What we see is the clause says that they reserve the right to pay less. We see the compensation where the employer, who is having their whole livelihood cut asunder, has the responsibility to pay for employee retraining. All of those will endorse retraining, but the onus should be on the current government to fund that.

There are also many questions about if there are going to be sufficient funds, and we see that the $200 million is there as a cap. I am asking the Treasurer to uncap that to provide sufficient funds so that there is fair compensation. Get rid of this atrocious first-round draft and also make sure that there is extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, with the contractors affected and their employees. I go back to a quote from the then Premier in the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee. He said to Danny O’Brien:

My commitment to you is: if we have to go further beyond this $200 million … then we will.

I call on the Treasurer to uphold that commitment.