Labor abandons hardwood plantations

The Andrews Government’s native timber transition plan has been labelled a sham after Labor abandons hardwood plantations.

During State Parliament Ms Bath pushed Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes for answers.

Ms Bath cited the former HPV plantation at Derhams Lane, Maryvale which only recently replanted with blue gum which is a pulp species.

“Since Labor’s $110 million plantation announcement in 2017, not one new hectare of land has been delivered or an additional tree put in the ground,” said Ms Bath

VicForests recently confirmed the Andrews Government is only planting 250 hectares of blue gum during 2020.

Ms Bath said Labor’s hardwood transition claims is a farce, it continues to claim old plantation land based on dodgy paper shuffling”, said Ms Bath.

“Victoria is under 10 years away from Labor’s planned hardwood industry closure and it’s insulting when not one new high-quality seedling intended for saw log is physically in the ground.

“Hardwood trees take 60 years to mature, through simple maths we know no plantation will be ready, let alone be producing high grade timber products for Victoria’s flooring, furniture and framing markets.

“The Andrews Government’s timber transition plan is threatening Victoria’s 70,000 direct and indirect timber jobs.

“At a time when every job is absolutely critical in regional Victoria, Labor is pushing timber workers further towards mental and financial ruin.”

The Victorian Hardwood Sawmillers Association spokesperson Leonard Fenning said they were committed to fighting the Victorian State Government’s decision to close the native timber industry.

Mr Fenning/Donchi said the Andrews Government’s timber policy was wrong and must change.

“Only four trees out of every 10,000 are harvested annually in Victoria, with every tree replaced and regrown by law, while sawmillers operate modern innovative businesses using high-tech equipment manufacturing goods for all Victorians,” said Mr Fenning.

“There is no need to acquire agriculture land to establish plantations, the physical location is inconsequential.”

Ms Bath said the Victorian native timber industry is highly regulated and sustainably managed compared to overseas industry models.

“If Labor’s planned closure of the native timber industry goes ahead, Victorians will be using unregulated imported rainforest timber,” said Ms Bath.

“The Andrews Government must admit it’s timber transition plan has failed and won’t deliver a suitable alternative for our sustainable native timber industry.

“The Nationals are calling on Daniel Andrews to abandon its diabolical native timber transition plan.”