$7.3b timber industry in jeopardy

$7.3b timber industry in jeopardy

Richard Pelz, a haulage contractor working near Orbost, says dwindling timber supply bought on by the State Government’s inaction to safeguard Victoria’s $7.3 billion timber industry has left his business on the brink of collapse.

Mr Pelz is just one of thousands of signatories to a petition calling on the Government to safeguard more than 20 regional Victorian communities from imminent collapse by honouring Timber Supply Agreements (TSAs) signed before June 30, 2017.

“The Victorian timber industry and the businesses and people that rely on it have come together today to call on the Government to save the jobs and livelihoods of the communities that surround Victorian timber mills, which are currently under threat,” Mr Pelz said.

“I have been operating our haulage company for 35 years. We have survived droughts, the Global Financial Crisis and the rising cost of fuel but we cannot survive the Government’s inaction.

“We will lose everything we have worked so hard for over the years,” he said.
Mr Pelz employs 30 full-time workers as well as six other subcontractors hauling all wood products across Victoria. His business is just one of hundreds tightly intertwined with the Victorian timber industry.

The petition, which currently has over 2000 signatures, was tabled in parliament by Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Member for Euroa, Steph Ryan MP; Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull MP; Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath MLC; Member for Eastern Victoria, Jeffrey Bourman MLC; Member for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell MLC; and Member for Eildon, Cindy McLeish MP.

Ms Ryan said the collapse of Victoria’s $7.3 billion timber industry would be catastrophic for regional Victoria.

“The Andrews Labor Government is putting jobs at risk and leaving families, businesses and communities in limbo,” Ms Ryan said.

“For over six months sawmill operators have been waiting for the government to provide some certainty, but they have been met with silence.

“The potential closure of any Victorian timber mill would have large-scale downstream employment impacts in regional communities.

“The impact closures will have on additional jobs that are supported by the industry including furniture markers, cabinetry and joinery manufacturers are also significant.”

The Victorian timber industry employs around 20,000 people in Victoria in both regional and metropolitan businesses. Between 40,000-50,000 additional jobs are supported by the industry through flow-on economic activity; including almost 10,000 people who make timber furniture, cabinetry and who are employed in joinery manufacture.