Closure of the Native Timber Industry – Question without Notice


Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:21): (155) My question is to the Minister for Agriculture.  Minister, your Victorian Forestry Plan committed to a closure of the native timber industry by 2030,
but on 23 May you brought forward the closure of this native timber industry – this sustainable native timber industry – from seven years to seven months. Minister, you are pre-empting a ruling on the Supreme Court appeal by VicForests. You are playing judge and jury and executioner of our native timber industry. Why have you been so cruel and reneged, leaving thousands of Victorians out of work?

Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:22): As I have just mentioned in my ministers statement,
there are a number of factors that led to the decision that was contained in last Tuesday’s budget. Firstly, there have been bushfires, then there has been unprecedented legal action and of course there have been decisions of higher courts. This, combined with an unsteady and unstable supply of timber in the industry for three years, resulting in hardly any timber being harvested in the last six months, where workers have not been able to work at all, has led to a decision of this government that there needed to be certainty created for timber workers and the timber industry. As a result of that, we were able to secure an additional $200 million for the transition. Not only that, we will assure the communities in which timber workers live that this will be a managed transition – that we will have workers and their families at the centre and we will ensure that there are the supports that are needed and required delivered to those who are in need.

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:23): Minister, last week, from the safety of government owned property in Morwell, you also said, ‘We will back communities,’ yet you failed to consult or
forewarn local mills, local small business contract harvesters and local workers. Did Daniel Andrews or his private office direct you, or was it your idea, to be so heartless and gutless?

The PRESIDENT: I think it is just asking for an opinion. Ms Bath, would you like to try and rephrase the supplementary question?

Melina BATH: Minister, was it your own decision to come to a state-owned property to make this callous and cruel decision, or was it directed by the Premier’s private office?


Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:25): I could be affronted by that question, but I will leave that
to one side. Given that I –

Members interjecting.

The PRESIDENT: Order! We have allowed the question. The minister is attempting to answer it and none of us can hear anything she is saying, so let us give the minister a go without interruption.


Gayle TIERNEY: Thank you, President. I thought it was important that I delivered the news and that I delivered it in an area affected by the decision. Because of my background I know that it is
important to have people on the ground who are able to take people through the decision, and I wanted to do that before the Treasurer got to his feet in the Assembly last Tuesday. I did that, and I did it with a number of people so that we could demonstrate to the local community that we had their back. I had the CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority with me. I had the head of the TAFE coordination and delivery unit. I had forest management with me. I had RDV, and of course Minister Shing was with me, and Tom McIntosh was also with me. There were a whole string of people there to demonstrate to the community that we have got their back.