Delayed salvage harvesting finally to go ahead

It has taken nearly a year for the Andrews Labor Government to finally release the timber burned in East Gippsland bushfires for salvage log harvesting.

At the earliest opportunity, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath called on Labor’s Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes in State Parliament to prioritise the burned timber for salvage log harvesting in East Gippsland back in February of this year.

Ms Bath insisted Minister Symes immediately resource VicForests to facilitate the operation to enable unemployed contractors to commence work, feed their families and support their work crews.

“Instead Minister Symes abandoned timber workers and their families with her protracted delay in responding to a desperate situation.

“Labor’s inaction is inexcusable and can only be described as unnecessarily cruel.

“These workers were desperate for work in February, starved of income and under enormous financial and mental pressure and Labor’s Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes chose to withhold the release of harvestable timber.”

Ms Bath said she was appalled at Minister Symes’ words this week saying timber harvesters should be saying ‘thanks’ to the Labor Government.

“Gippsland’s native timber harvesters are being bureaucratically starved of resource because of Labor’s green ideology and having their sustainable and highly regulated industry unnecessarily closed, I can think of many more applicable words to use than ‘thanks.’”

Ms Bath said many regional communities rely on the sustainable native timber industry for jobs.

“The native timber industry employees over 20,000 people and contributes in excess of $7 billion to Victoria’s economy.

“Gippslanders won’t forget the destruction Labor’s timber policy is causing.

“Victoria’s native timber workers produce world class products under the most stringent regulations, instead of canning local jobs Labor should be supporting, embracing and promoting the industry.

“I have no confidence in Daniel Andrews or Jaclyn Symes, and I’m committed to supporting Victoria’s native timber workers.

“My Nationals colleagues and I will keep fighting to retain timber jobs and scrap Labor’s ideologically based decision to shut the industry by 2030.”