Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh
Labor Takes Anti-Forestry Industry Stance
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Labor Opposition has jilted the forestry industry this week by voting against legislation that would provide longer term resource security, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said.
Following debate in the Legislative Council last night, Labor sided with the Greens and voted against the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Bill 2013.
“This legislation was introduced following extensive review of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004.” Mr. Walsh said.
“To ensure a sustainable future, Victoria’s native forestry industry requires greater resource security and certainty to facilitate long term industry investment.”
“Improving long term resource security underpins the industry’s ability to access finance for investments in processing infrastructure, value adding and produce and market development.”
“This legislation provides extra security by enabling VicForests to offer timber supply contracts for periods of up to 20 years; currently contracts can only be offered for periods of up to 15 years.”
“The legislation does not alter Victoria’s world-standard sustainable forest management regulations and environmental standards.”
“The amendment would also cut red tape by removing the Timber Harvester Operator Licence (THOL) system.”
“The THOL system duplicates occupational health and safety standards required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and its removal will save individuals and businesses an estimated $280,000 p.a.”
“Labor’s opposition is on shaky ground. Labor claims to support long term resource security but voted against it. Labor also claims to support jobs in regional Victoria but, again, voted against measures that would provide greater job security for forestry workers.”
“Labor has opposed the removal of the THOL system, despite John Lenders himself proposing it be removed when he was Treasurer in the former government.”
“Daniel Andrews would do well to seek the sensible counsel of the Labor Member for Ripon, Joe Helper, before this Bill is voted on in the Legislative Assembly.”
“Mr. Helper told ABC Radio this week he “absolutely and thoroughly” agrees with measures that provide greater resource security. As a former Minister responsible for Forestry, Mr. Helper must be disappointed that Labor is playing politics with this Bill.” Mr. Walsh said.