Ten months after the Andrews Government said it would create a ‘state owned’ seedling nursery at Nowa Nowa, East Gippsland, the site continues to sit idle.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, said when Labor announced the nursery in November 2020 it spruiked the establishment would create 30 jobs.
“It appears Labor’s announcement was premature and based on spin, as the site had not even been secured prior to the announcement.”
During State Parliament today, Ms Bath questioned why the nursery was at a standstill today almost a year after the announcement was made, and if in fact the Andrews Government is being forced to look for another location.
In 2019, Daniel Andrews announced Labor would close the native timber industry and transition to plantation native timber by 2030, destroying thousands of Gippsland jobs under its Victorian Forestry Plan.
Ms Bath said Labor’s rash announcement is highly unlikely to create 30 jobs for Nowa Nowa let alone save thousands of timber jobs that are being destroyed as a result of the Andrews Government’s warped ideology.
“Labor said this seedling nursery was already in the planning phase when the Agriculture Minister announced it, stating it would commence in the coming months,” said Ms Bath.
“The Andrews Government’s love of spin once again has again eclipsed any need for due diligence, deliverables or accountability.”
Ms Bath, a long-time supporter of Victoria’s sustainable native timber industry labelled the project announcement and inaction, farcical.
“Labor’s score card for the timber industry is appalling – in this instance it has failed to secure the site, establish a nursery, grow one seedling or create one job for locals”, said Ms Bath.
“Any seedling grown by the Andrews Government will not be ready for saw log harvest until 2050 at the earliest.
“Labor’s ‘Victorian Forestry Plan’ is bogus and an unestablished seedling nursery will not replace 21,000 jobs and $7.32 billion through Victoria’s economy.
“Furthermore, it will not be able to grow the resources the construction industry needs, and timber shortages will continue long into the future under Daniel Andrews.”
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull said Victorian native timber jobs are critical to the survival of many Gippsland communities and Labor is destroying the livelihood of hardworking regional families and our timber towns.
“The nursery was just another smoke and mirrors timber announcement, that has eventuated to nothing,” said Mr Bull.
“Labor is starving the native timber industry of resources, costing Gippslanders jobs and is undermining business confidence.
“Melina and I will continue to seek answers and continue to support these important East Gippsland jobs,” he said.