Thursday, 1 June 2023


Timber industry

Timber industry

Bev McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (16:14): (285) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture and concerns the shock announcement that the illogical, environmentally catastrophic and economically stupid ban on native timber harvesting in Victoria will be brought forward by six years to 2024. It is the only thing this government is doing ahead of schedule, but now even Labor supporters are slamming it. Michael O’Connor, national secretary of the CFMEU, quit the Victorian Forestry Plan advisory committee, saying the committee is ‘frankly, a sham’. He went on to say:

The union is not interested in being a prop for the state’s media unit.

He said members were devastated to hear about the accelerated shutdown and it was completely disrespectful and inappropriate that they found out about it through news outlets. He went on to blast the government for the transition plan as being just ‘government rhetoric’, and he said the last time he looked at training it was not a job. He said:

The government has rushed this announcement (and) hasn’t consulted anybody.

And it gets worse, because Labor senator for Victoria Raff Ciccone has attacked it –

A member: My friend.

Bev McARTHUR: Your friend, is he? Right. Your senator. He has attacked it, claiming there has been total disregard for unions, workers and the broader sector. This is your senator who is attacking you. The poor senator said:

I’m disappointed by the Vic Gov’s sudden decision to end the native timber industry as it will have a negative effect on workers and regional communities.

Senator Ciccone seems to really understand rural and regional communities even if the government does not. But he also went on to say:

Australia needs timber products and we need to support local forestry jobs.

Well, hallelujah! He has got it right. And asked if more needed to be done to support the workers, he said:

I don’t think people want a package, they want … jobs.

Well, isn’t that a revelation? He said the state government has already said 2030, so why now? He is asking the government, asking your people:

Where are you going to get your timber for your furniture, for your floorboards –

we have got a housing problem –

… and other parts of the building.

Minister, isn’t it clear, when even your own side is rejecting the policy, that it is time to rethink it? The action I seek is for the minister to wake up to the reality of the damage this decision will do to communities, the economy, the home building industry and the environment and abandon this Greens-appeasing ideology-based policy choice. You have got time.