The State Government on Monday admitted its promise to transition the state’s native regrowth timber industry to solely plantation- based timber by 2030 is a sham.
The Age revealed Victoria’s Agriculture Minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, has conceded the promised plantations won’t be ready by 2030.
The following is an excerpt from The Age article: Minister Thomas said the government had been clear that plantation trees planted now will not be ready by 2030 and that they will not be replacing native forests tree-for-tree.
The admission comes after 18 months of Premier Daniel Andrews, and his ministers, repeatedly promising there will be minimal job losses when the government ends native forest harvesting in 2030 because it will transition sawmills to plantation logs.
“Fenning Timbers has known, and been telling the government for years, there are no plantation sawlogs available for its hardwood sawmill to transition into,” Fenning Timbers’
Brian Donchi said. “It’s simply not there, it’s a fallacy, something the
Greens used to intentionally shut down Victoria’s native timber industry by slowly infiltrating the government.
“Our industry deserves better than a lie from our government. It’s one of the most sustainable industries in the world, which only operates in a small section of Victoria’s State Forests, in which all coupes are replanted once completed.
“The Victorian Government needs to acknowledge this 5.5 per cent of State Forest used by the Victorian timber industry is a plantation area in its own right given we continuously keep harvesting within the same areas on an 80-year rotation which is grown under law.”
Mr Donchi said shutting down Victoria’s timber industry will put thousands of Victorians out of work and the pain will extend further.
“The Victorian timber industry operates under 16 different pieces of legislation and timber harvesting acts and codes, which ensure the industry is complying and meeting all environmental compliance regulations,” he said.
“Daniel Andrews must now come clean and tell the Victorian timber industry its decision is reversed until such time it can take place in the future when there is plantation trees are available.”
Leonard Fenning said Victoria’s native timber industry sector generates approximately 2500 direct jobs, in which Fenning Timbers contributes to 50 employees working in its business.
“It also helps to support the thousands more indirect jobs in Victoria, which generates around $770 million in revenue annually with $297 million value added in regional communities,” he said.
“Fenning Timbers operates one of the most modern hardwood sawmills in Victoria using some of the best technology in the world to manufacture Victoria’s timber products which are used by Victorians. Its time for the Victorian Government to back local manufacturing business like Fenning Timbers who support regional communities in providing full time jobs.”
Australian Forest Products Association chief executive officer, Ross Hampton, said everything the Andrews Government had promised the thousands of regional workers, their families and their communities to this point had been exposed as a lie.
“Everyone in regional Victoria has known that the plan was a sham from the start and now it’s been exposed,” he said.
“Anyone who knows anything about tree growth rates, has known from the start that - even if hardwood plantation trees could fill all the timber needs of Victoria - they would take many decades to grow and tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land which the government hasn’t even purchased yet.”
Fenning Timbers’ Brian Donchi and Leonard Fenning are outraged the Victorian Minister for Agriculture has admitted plans to transition to plantation timber by 2030 are unrealistic, having long claimed the state’s timber industry is highly sustainable without needing to transition. K1423-1310 (2019)