Labor failings costing local timber families

Failure to act by the Andrews Labor Government is costing Gippsland timber workers and their families according to local Nationals MPs.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath have spoken out in support of local timber workers including those prevented from working by legal action surrounding the Alberton West timber coupes.

Mr O’Brien said the Andrews Labor Government promised 12 months ago to remove ambiguity in the Code of Practice for Timber Production that was allowing environment groups to regularly take legal action to stop harvesting while court action is pending.

“We have heard from timber workers across the region that this is putting their industry, their jobs and their families at risk as the supply of timber is locked up.

“Melina and I met this week with Mark Maiden who is a Yarram-based contractor, and some of his crew, who have been prevented from harvesting the Flinders coupe at Alberton West by a legal injunction.

“If the Andrews Government was serious about protecting timber workers and their jobs, it would have acted to close these loopholes and ensure work can continue in the forestry industry.”

Ms Bath said repeated legal action was threatening not only harvest jobs but those of workers in mills and manufacturing and construction down the supply chain as timber supply dwindles.

“The Andrews Government really doesn’t care for our timber workers. It could have fixed this issue when it said so 12 months ago but has been dragging the chain and as such, we now have timber families being penalised by activist groups.

“In NSW the state government has legislated to minimise this sort of destructive legal action and has backed its timber industry, but the Labor Government here in Victoria is more interested in green votes in the city than country jobs.”

Mr Maiden, who employs a large crew across Gippsland, including 14 staff in Yarram, said the legal action was frustrating for all his workers.

“I just want to be able to work and put food on the table for my family and those of my staff. It’s very frustrating to be locked out of our workplace.”