Bath calls on Minister to meet with grassroots timber delegation

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on Labor’s Minister for Agriculture, Gayle Tierney to meet with a local timber delegation that includes workers, families, contractors, and small businesses in state parliament today.

The request was made following Minister D’Ambrosio back gate exit and snub of workers, families and contractors that occurred in Latrobe Valley last week.

Ms Bath said Minister Tierney must demonstrate leadership and show some genuine empathy towards our timber towns who are reeling following the Andrews Government’s disastrous decision to shut the Victoria’s sustainable hardwood industry.

“There is no excuse for Minister Tierney not to meet with a respectful delegation representing grass roots individuals.

“It’s not good enough for Labor MP’s to be hiding behind pad locked gates, attending private media conferences, and hiding behind supposed legal advice and media statements dripping in spin.

“Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron and I stood shoulder to shoulder with these individuals last week when Minister D’Ambrosio callously denied them an audience – the small group involved harvest and haulage operators, wives, sisters, mothers, and small business owners.

“Labor thinks by using the word ‘certainty’ it’s delivering it – but our timber towns are attempting to tell them they are drowning in a wave of uncertainty.”

Minister Tierney recently said in state parliament that it was “important to have people on the ground who are able to take people through the decision,” but the Labor has categorically failed to do this.

She also cited, standing with people on government salaries including the CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority, the head of the TAFE coordination and delivery unit, forest management, RDV, as well as Minister Shing and Tom McIntosh as ‘people being affected by the decision’.

“A move viewed by impacted locals as a safety in numbers PR exercise, conducted behind closed doors at an invitation only media conference that didn’t involve workers.”

Ms Bath said the Andrews Government has continually failed to engage with the people directly impacted by its decisions, and any claim Labor’s standing beside these workers is disingenuous.

“Workers and their families are desperate for Labor to listen and hear the support offered is not meeting their needs.

“The only way for the Andrews Government’s to deliver certainty to our timber towns is to meet with the people affected and understand their needs, and not a safe group it cherry picks.

“I’m calling on Minister Tierney to meet with this timber delegation and start to gain an understanding of the many complex issues they are facing workers and timber towns.”