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- Questions on Notice No 5925
- Assembly59 Parliament First Session
- Asked: 6 May 2021
Question on Notice
Ms Sandell to ask the Minister for Agriculture — At the Errinundra in East Gippsland, private security guards have been hired in areas of forests planned for logging:
(1) Who is paying for this security.
(2) What is the cost.
- Answered: 18 June 2021
QoN - LA - Response_0_0.docx
The Victorian Government fully supports the lawful work of our timber harvest and haul contractors and will not tolerate illegal entry or dangerous behaviours in their legitimate workplaces. Entry by unauthorised persons into areas zoned as Timber Harvest Safety Zones (THSZ) is not only illegal it is highly dangerous with significant potential for injury and death.
Since February 2021, there have been a number of illegal incursions into THSZs in the Bendoc area. Some of the dangerous behaviours exhibited by persons entering these zones has caused considerable concern for their safety and that of workers carrying out their lawful harvest and haul operations. I am also increasingly concerned as to the impacts some of these behaviours have had on the mental health and wellbeing of workers undertaking their legitimate activities.
All of these unlawful incursions have and will be dealt with by the deployment of Authorised Officers, Victoria Police and Victoria Police Search and Rescue teams. Significant fines and court action have and will continue to be applied to persons engaged in any illegal incursions into THSZs in Bendoc or any other active THSZs across the State.
VicForests have contracted a private security company to carry out various duties within active THSZs in the Bendoc area. I am advised that the private security team have been highly effective in preventing interference with machinery and the establishment of occupied structures such as tree sits within the THSZs. The company will continue to be employed for as long as is necessary.
The exact costs of the employment of the private security company in the Bendoc area are yet to be provided to my department. As part of our commitment to not tolerate illegal activity in THSZs, VicForests will be reimbursed by the government for these costs.
The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Agriculture