Labor’s timber nursery misses the mark

The establishment of a seedling nursery won’t save tens of thousands of native timber jobs that will be destroyed as a result of the Andrews Government’s green agenda.

In 2019, Daniel Andrews announced Labor would close the native timber industry and transition to plantation native timber by 2030.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, a long-time supporter of Victoria’s sustainable native timber industry labelled Labor’s announcement insulting.

The Andrews Labor Government needs to explain how the establishment of a nursery will replace Victoria’s world class sustainable native timber industry in only 10 years,” said Ms Bath.

“Any seedling planted today will not be ready for saw log harvest until 2050.

“Recognising how long it takes the Andrews Labor Government to establish operations after any given announcement, it is doubtful any seedlings will be in the ground before 2022.

“Labor’s ‘Victorian Forestry Plan’ is bogus and a seedling nursery will not replace 21,000 jobs and an industry that delivers $7.32 billion through Victoria’s economy.”

Ms Bath also raised serious questions around the validity of the jobs Labor claim it will create through the nursery’s establishment.

“Gippsland wants and needs secure permanent jobs, yet Labor is serving up temporary construction and casual/seasonal jobs which do not equate to sustainable long term employment,” said Ms Bath.

“Gippslanders are justifiably sceptical of Labor’s job creation claims following the Steelvision debacle, and the serious lack of progress on the 500 SEA Electric manufacturing jobs Daniel Andrews promised for Latrobe Valley during the 2018 election.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, Victoria should focus on being more self-sufficient. Labor should be supporting and invest in timber manufacturing jobs using our homegrown high end hardwood products, instead of importing timber from third world countries,” said Ms Bath.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh 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.

“This is just another smoke and mirrors timber announcement that will not deliver long term jobs, nor will it replace our sustainable native timber industry,” said Mr Walsh.

“Labor is starving the native timber industry of resources, costing Gippslanders jobs and is undermining business confidence.”