Timber Industry Compensation

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:38): (650) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Treasurer, and the action I seek is for the Treasurer to work with his Commonwealth counterpart to ensure fairer taxing of displaced redundant workers who have been paid out with lump-sum payments because of the native timber industry shutdown, abandoning the science of forestry and abandoning the social and economic benefits of native timber. Tragically, Treasurer, your government is in the process of shutting down our world-class hardwood industry. Collateral damage to harvest and haulage and mill workers includes staff associated with those industries. They are now facing yet another punishment. In the process, redundant workers are being paid out with lump-sum packages. Lump-sum packages, of course, have this unintended and abhorrent consequence: staff, and particularly long-term staff, are being hit with significant tax bills as a result of these payouts and moving to a higher tax bracket. For example, a redundant mill office manager who has worked in the same job for 40 years has now got a tax bill of $30,000. Another former employee has been in the industry for 30 years and has worked in a number of different processing organisations. He was entitled to a fully capped redundancy payment of $150,000, plus another $50,000 for the years that he has worked. He now faces a tax bill of $56,000, which equates to 28 per cent tax. To quote the mill manager where this gentleman works, it is:

… yet another kick in the guts to all of these timber industry employees who have had their industry shutdown and lost their jobs but now coughing up large amounts of money in tax on a Government redundancy.

I am sure the Treasurer will have sympathy for these hardworking Victorians who through no fault of their own are now faced with an uncertain future, the loss of their livelihoods and potentially displacement from their communities, as they have to now go and find another job somewhere else. So, Treasurer, I ask for you to collaborate with your Commonwealth equivalent, the Commonwealth Treasurer, to find a solution and ensure these good people are not further punished.