East Gippsland and Wellington shire councils have released the results of a new jointly commissioned study that will help inform decision making about the Victorian Government’s native timber harvesting phase-out.
Mayor Cr Mendy Urie said East Gippsland has a long and significant history with the timber industry. For many of our communities, timber harvesting and processing is part of their identity.
“In response to the announcement of the Victorian Government to phase out native timber harvesting by 2030 we have worked with Wellington Shire Council through a Timber Industry Taskforce to jointly engage a specialist economic impact consultant,” Cr Urie said.
“This has ensured we have independent information available about the potential jobs impact on our communities that will be affected by the Victorian Forestry Plan.”
Part of that analysis indicates around 1,110 jobs would be lost across East Gippsland and Wellington shires if native forest logging ceased immediately.
“These jobs are important to both shires and include direct and indirect jobs,” Cr Urie said.
“The information in the economic impact report will help us better understand the work needed to support our communities now and into the future.
“We are also working with the Victorian Government on a pilot community transition program in Orbost. This program will investigate the best ways to create new employment opportunities. Council has and will continue to advocate for investment in East Gippsland in response to the transition announcement.
“Recently, similar assistance for Swifts Creek and Nowa Nowa has also been announced and Council will work with the Government to ensure maximum benefits are gained from these rollouts.
“We want to ensure that any industry restructure places communities at the centre of decision making and that resources are adequate and that no one is left behind.
“We recognise timber workers have skills, expertise and equipment that is often used in a first response to fire events, for example. As the native forest industry is restructured, it is our expectation that their skills and machinery can be retained and used under such circumstances and that contractors are afforded other meaningful work within the forestry industry and other sectors.
“We continue to seek greater detail from the Victorian Government about the transition out of native hardwood forests and the basis for the decision.
“We will continue to work with communities across the region to ensure we are getting the best possible outcomes out of a challenging situation.”