The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has labelled the Andrews Government’s latest Forestry Plan announcement a farcical con, saying it’s as useful to workers and industry as a two-legged chair.
Last week the Andrews Government announced it would spend $100 million on “opt out packages” and “innovation vouchers” for businesses reliant on Victorian native timber harvesting for the manufacturing of products.
During the announcement also Labor flagged it would give more power to the Office of Conservation Regulator (OCR).
Ms Bath said instead of meeting local demand for sustainably produced native timber products, Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas demonstrated how out of touch Labor is.
“It typical that the Andrews Government would hold a media conference to pat itself on the back and tell taxpayers it’s spending $100 million to close a world class, sustainable Victorian industry which employs thousands of people – it’s farcical, false economy and defies any sensibility,” said Ms Bath.
“Rather than using tax payer’s money on a forced ‘transition’, the right way for Labor to solve the state’s timber supply issue, is to reverse its ban on Victoria’s native timber industry and support timber jobs.
“The native timber industry contributes $1.4 billion annually to Victoria’s economy and underpins the economic viability of our regional timber communities including West Gippsland, Latrobe Valley, Heyfield, Orbost and Swifts Creek.
“It sustains many industries that manufacture specialised product including musical instruments, furniture, flooring and joinery through to timber pallets for the distribution of food and beverages.
“Victoria’s native timber industry is one of the most highly regulated and sustainable in the world – the industry and the jobs it supports should be saved and celebrated, rather than shunned and shut.”
Ms Bath said on the Andrews Government’s own admission there hasn’t been a single prosecution of forestry practices in the past three years, since the OCR came into being.
“Labor’s nonsense commentary about ‘strengthening” the OCR is spin, made up to solve a non-existent problem,” said Ms Bath.
“Labor’s primary concern is city votes based on green political science, not sound facts and real science.
“The Nationals will reverse the ban in November 2022, if elected, until I intend to keep calling out Labor’s farcical propaganda around Victoria’s sustainable native timber industry.”