17 May, 2021

Timber Towns warns massive job losses if native timber industry closes

Timber Towns Victoria is calling on the State Government to reconsider its plan to shut down the state’s native timber industry by 2030.

Timber Towns President and Deputy Mayor of Glenelg Shire, Cr Karen Stephens said, “This is not the time for the Victorian Government to be taking steps that will cost more jobs, further damage regional communities and economies, and sacrifice a viable resource industry.

“Victoria’s native timber industry employs around 2,500 people directly, supports thousands of indirect jobs, and adds almost $300 million value to regional communities. The industry underpins the entire economies of many small regional towns.”

A report commissioned by Rural Councils Victoria, Economic Impact Assessment of the creation and retention of rural jobs, highlights the economic impact of job losses and creation on rural areas.

“The data tells us how much more rural areas are hurt by job losses, compared to cities. Put simply, one job loss in Melbourne is equivalent to five jobs lost in small rural communities,” said Cr Stephens.

“The Crowle Harworth report also highlights how hard it is for rural workers to adjust to job loss. The local economy in rural communities often depends on only one or two industries and rural workers who lose their jobs have few, if any, other local job prospects. That causes high levels of family distress and community decline.

“The Victorian Government needs to understand that in rural towns, if a family’s main income earner loses their job, they might have to uproot their entire family and move away. This puts local schools and services at risk and adds to the problem of aging rural communities.

“Victoria’s native timber heartland, Gippsland and its communities have suffered overwhelming economic damage and job losses in recent times through drought, bushfires, the loss of the 2019-20 tourism season, and the COVID-19 pandemic. They simply cannot afford more job losses.

“Victoria has the capacity to maintain a financially viable and sustainable native timber industry supporting thousands of workers, their families and businesses in regional communities, while protecting Old Growth Forest and endangered wildlife, if the Victorian Government will allow it to operate,” said Cr Stephens.

The phase out of the industry is due to start from 2025, just over three years from now.

“Timber Towns Victoria believes the 2025 commencement of the phase out must be postponed to protect regional jobs and maintain local investment confidence, in order to help rebuild the regional economy.

“We want the Victorian Government to understand how much this decision will hurt the broader Gippsland economy, beyond the direct timber industry, and will undermine business and community confidence at a very difficult time,” said Cr Stephens.

About Timber Towns Victoria

Timber Towns Victoria is the peak local government body for Victoria on forestry policy. We represent ten Victorian councils with local forestry industries on public or private land. Read the Rural Councils Victoria report, Economic Impact Assessment of the creation & retention of rural jobs.

For more information, contact Timber Towns President and Deputy Mayor of Glenelg Shire, Cr Karen Stephens, 0488 900 645 or email secretary@timbertownsvictoria.com.au

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