Bath calls for forestry training standstill solution

Victoria’s emergency services personnel are unable to complete vital first responder training after activists placed an injunction of TAFE Gippsland’s Forestec Rowboat training coupe.

In state parliament today The Nationals’ Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath demanded the Andrews Government ensure first responders be able to complete their training.

Ms Bath said it’s deplorable that the Andrews Government has failed to stop third party litigators targeting Forestec’s Rowboat training coupe in attempt to atop all harvesting activities.

“The Rowboat coupe in East Gippsland is the site for DELWP’s forest fire management crews, SES and VicPol first responder training.

“Students learn important forestry skills including high-risk dangerous tree falling, machine operations, crosscut, 4WD and forest fire management to reduce the spread of bushfire, keeps roads open and protect life and property.”

During question time Ms Bath asked the Minister for Training and Skills to be part of the solution so emergency services personnel can complete their training.

“Minister Tierney said she was ‘optimistic’ about the training continuing at some point in the future, however in her response she stopped short of providing a commitment to working with DELWP to solve it,” said Ms Bath

“This is third time in nine months TAFE Gippsland’s forest training site has been targeted and shut down by third party litigators.

“Third part litigation in Victoria continues to impact emergency services and commercial industry training, therefore it’s imperative all State Government Ministers and departments involved work together to deliver a solution as an urgent priority.

“The Andrews Government’s apathy towards this constant third-party litigation isn’t good enough – 70 percent of people enrolled in this course are first responders working for our emergency services.

“Nothing is more important than keeping communities safe during storm and fire events, these vital forestry skills must be taught and practiced without the constant threat of legal action.

“With the plentiful winter rain and expected spring vegetation growth in Gippsland the Andrews Government must be doing everything it can to ensure the training of first responders is prioritised.

“If the court injunction can’t be immediately solved, then the Andrews Government must allow VicForests to allocate an alternate coupe so vital forestry training can continue.”