The Nationals and timber towns call to arms

Timber communities have vowed to fight back against Daniel Andrews’ policy to shut Victoria’s sustainable native timber industry.

A round table forum held in Heyfield attended by community members, harvesters, industry groups, local Councillors and Gippsland’s state and federal MPs strongly rejected the Andrews Government’s native timber transition plan.

Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said the Heyfield forum was a show of strength and a call to action from the industry and its supporters.

“Overwhelmingly attendees endorsed Victoria’s sustainable hardwood forestry industry as a solution to reducing Australia’s carbon emissions and called out Labor’s false environmentalism,” said Ms Bath.

“Shutting the native timber industry will kill forests, kill native wildlife, destroy jobs and cost lives in regional Victoria – there’s no sugar-coating it.

“If Daniel Andrews thinks our timber communities will accept his diabolical decision to shut our sustainable native timber industry and tells us what jobs we can have, he’s mistaken.

“City centric Labor MPs keep telling regional people how to live their lives – what jobs and industries we can have, what past times we can partake in, how to manage our assets – but what we want is more boots and less suits.

“Our hardwood timber manufacturing is a sophisticated, world-class and environmentally sustainable industry supporting tens of thousands of Australian jobs, it protects communities and native flora and fauna from bushfire and reduces our carbon footprint.

“Hardwood products such as floors, furniture and joinery store carbon for life, carbon is captured and isn’t released into the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases and the impact of climate change.”

“Carbon capture from growing, harvesting, and regrowing native hardwood timber is proven science, our home-grown hardwood timber is the ultimate renewable resource.

“Consumers want locally grown and manufactured timber, not imported products originating from third world countries devoid of environmental standards.

“Every tree harvested in Victoria is regrown, our old growth forests have been protected for many years now and any comment to the contrary is propaganda.”

Ms Bath said Daniel Andrews’ decision to shut native hardwood industry will lead to more frequent and intense bushfires as it removes the state’s first defence.

“When a bushfire begins, our native timber harvesters are called on to use their specialist equipment and expert knowledge of our bush – they remove dangerous trees and keep roads open, create fire breaks, save lives, homes and towns.

“Our forests need active management, activities such as weed and pest control, fuel load reduction using cool indigenous burns and harvesting helps them to survive.”

The Nationals and Liberals have committed to overturn Daniel Andrews decision to shut the native industry if they win the state election in November.

Ms Bath said key stakeholders and supporters of homegrown hardwood timber have vowed to target the Andrews Labor Government in the upcoming state election.

“Daniel Andrews needs to understand the native timber industry is one that delivers positive environmental and economic outcomes, and our timber communities will not take Labor’s belligerence laying down.”