The Andrews Labor Government has today acted to ensure a long-term and sustainable future for Victoria’s forestry industry – and for the Victorian workers who rely on it.
As Australian Paper moves away from using native timber in its paper production and with a reduction in available native timber resources due to fire and wildlife protection, the Labor Government has unveiled a new 30-year plan to support the sector as it transitions.
As part of the plan, $120 million will be set aside to ensure the industry is fully supported, backing long-term sustainable jobs and giving local workers confidence about their future.
VicForests will extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, after which native timber supply will be stepped down before ending in 2030.
In addition, logging in remaining old growth forests will cease immediately, protecting around 90,000 hectares, with all logging in native forests across the state to stop by 2030.
The plan includes the release of the Greater Glider Action Statement, which makes another 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria immediately exempt from logging in order to protect this iconic marsupial and other threatened species.
To assist businesses as they prepare for this transition, the Labor Government will provide dedicated funding to help local mills invest in new equipment that will allow them to process alternative timbers and support local jobs.
That includes Australian Paper, which will be supported to transition to a full plantation-based supply, ensuring it operates until at least 2050 – providing support to its almost 1,000-strong workforce and stability to its customers.
Additional funding will go to ensure industry employees are afforded the certainty and security they deserve, with support for impacted workers to access re-employment and re-training services. The plan will also help fund community projects that support local businesses and help create local jobs.
Today’s announcement builds on the Government’s existing efforts to increase our state’s supply of plantation timber, with a record $110 million allocated in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to help ensure ongoing access to affordable, locally-produced paper products.
The first of those plantation trees – 250,000 blue gum seedlings – were planted near Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill earlier this year.
In providing a 30-year forward plan, we’re creating a new, more sustainable future for this industry – but just as importantly, we’re giving workers the certainty they deserve.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“This industry is going through a transition. It means it’s not good enough for us to merely cross our fingers and hope for the best. We need a plan to support workers and support jobs.”
“With a 30-year plan for transition, we’re providing much-needed certainty for workers and their families.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaclyn Symes
“Industry and retailers are moving towards more sustainable timber products and the future of the forestry industry relies on a Government with a clear long-term plan.”
“By acting now, businesses and workers have the security they need and a clear strategy in place for the transition to plantation timber.”