Victorian government brings forward ban of native logging by announcing $200 million industry transition package
The Victorian government declared it is being upfront with the timber industry, pledging every single worker will be supported to find a new job.
Labor and Greens land deal to ban reconstruction fund…
The Australian’s Environment Editor Graham Lloyd discusses Labor’s last-minute agreement with the Greens to ban the national reconstruction fund from direct coal, gas and native logging projects investments. “In the background, there’s negotiations for the government’s safeguard mechanism changes which the Greens are saying the key demand is there’d be no future coal or gas developments,” Mr Lloyd told Sky News host Sharri Markson. “The fund that was the subject of legislation today is looking at investing in industry going forward.”
Native timber logging in Victorian forests will cease sooner than originally planned, in a move that will impact upwards of 15,000 workers. The industry has recently been hampered by increasingly severe bushfires, prolonged legal action and court decisions.
In Tuesday’s budget, the government unveiled a $200 million support package that will transition workers away from native timber logging by the end of 2023.
It brings forward the state government’s original plan, announced in 2019, to phase out logging by 2030.
The announcement brings the government’s total support for the transition to more than $875 million.
Native timber logging in Victorian forests will cease sooner than originally planned, in a move that will impact upwards of 15,000 workers. Picture: Dannika Bonser
The government has insisted it’s being upfront with the industry, and that “every single” timber worker will be directly supported to find a new job.
A statement said there were no alternative timber supply sources “available domestically or internationally” that can offset the disruptions in Victoria.
“All of that has drastically cut the timber supply we can actually use. And that’s left workers in complete limbo,” it said.
“Hundreds of workers, across Victoria, haven’t been able to work a day in recent months.
“They’ve got no certainty over their jobs. They don’t even know when they’ll be able to get back to work.”
The government said workers would be retrained through its Free TAFE program, which will help them get employment in industries such as construction, agriculture, transport and manufacturing.
They will also be supported by an up to $8,000 retraining vouchers.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was “stepping up” to support workers and their families.
“It’s not good enough for us to just cross our fingers and hope for the best,” he said.
“We need a plan to support workers, their families and support local jobs.
“That’s why we’re stepping up to give these workers – and their communities, businesses, and partners along the supply chain – the certainty they deserve.”
Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt celebrated the “relentless people-power”, crediting his state colleges.
“To the activists who put everything on the line to protect First Nations heritage, Victoria’s forests, and every creature that calls them home - thank you,” he said.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam welcomed the move by Labor, describing the outcome as a “relief” to the environment and wildlife.Greens Senator Nick McKim also praised the announcement, calling on his home state of Tasmania to follow suit and “end the assault on nature from native forest logging”.
The Coalition in Victoria, however, said the decision signified the “final death warrant” of the industry in Victoria.
Joseph HuitsonDigital Reporter
May 23, 2023