The Victorian Government’s forestry policy is a kick in the guts to forestry and timber workers and the regional communities which rely on the industry.
No one denies the industry is facing challenges, but the Government’s response is a complete betrayal.
- The union does not accept the Government’s decision to lock up more native forests.
- The union does not accept the Government’s decision to cease native forest logging at 2030.
- The union does not accept the inadequate worker, community and contractor compensation package the Government has offered.
Problems with the Government’s Plan:
- Despite the rhetoric about “providing certainty” the plan does not give the hardwood saw logging sector a fighting chance to adapt and adjust. The only certainty it provides is job losses either straight away, in 2024 or in 2030.
- Despite the rhetoric about “securing jobs at Australian Paper until 2050”, the plan risks the viability Australian Paper and the thousands of jobs that rely on it as there is little room to manoeuvre if there is another big bush fire or there are problems in establishing or growing the 50,000 hectares of plantation needed to transition the company to plantation wood.
- Despite the rhetoric about workers and communities being supported with a “dedicated assistance package” the worker and community support package is completely inadequate and insufficient.
- Despite the rhetoric about “getting the balance right between the environment and jobs” the policy gives environment groups everything they want, upfront with no strings attached. There is no strategy to stop the environment groups continuing to withhold certification, continuing to engage in logging coup protests or continuing their market campaigns against Victorian timber and paper.
- Despite the rhetoric about “new jobs in plantations” the policy has no mechanisms in place to ensure that they will be good, secure, union jobs.
- Despite the rhetoric that it was a “difficult and hard but necessary decision” it was a stupid decision, a heartless decision and a decision out of character for a Government that had built a solid reputation for supporting blue-collar jobs.