Out of timber

Out of timber

Fenning Timbers is the first of what could be a string of timber mills to run out of logs.

“Logging contractors have nearly got nowhere to operate,” Fenning resources manager, Brian Donchi, said.

“It’s an absolute mess and makes you wonder what the agenda is.”

Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh, said there was enough timber available to ensure the mill would survive, but jobs were being lost because of the State Government’s “destructive” policy.

“Daniel Andrews is on a warpath to starve Victoria’s native timber industry of resource at the cost of local jobs,” Mr Walsh said.

He said 100 workers were out of work and 80 machines were sitting idle due to lack of access to timber coupes.

Mr Donchi said the solution was to open two burnt coupes of Ash alongside Engineers Road, about 40 kilometres north of Bruthen, Momba Spur and Dow Saddle.

He said if the two salvage areas were made available now it would give local contractors and haulage contractors work, as well as keeping Fennings in operation over the winter months until supply picked up again.

“Every single thing that can hold or delay timber harvesting is happening,” Mr Donchi said in frustration.

“This is just snowballing.

“In these tough times we can create jobs for harvesters and haulage contractors as well as economic activity.

“We don’t want a handout, we just want to keep working and get on with the job of providing products and services.

“The past two years have been difficult with huge shortfalls of allocations.

“All jobs will be at risk if we don’t have continuity of supply,” Mr Donchi said.

Fenning Timbers has invested $60 million in the mill, including technology like robots and scanners.

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has called for urgent intervention in parliament, asking the minister to immediately supply sawlog grade timber to the mill.

“Timber contractors are not working and as a result mills are out of logs,” Mr Bull said.

“This is due to the fact that under this government, areas for harvest have been continually put into reserve, without other areas being returned to the sector. When this happens, something has to give.

“Fenning Timbers is a highly regarded local company that employs 50 people and contributes much to our community.

“The Premier said he would walk with us in the bushfire recovery and I can assure you we cannot afford to lose a company like this or the jobs it provides.

“We’ve had enough pain in our region and this is something that can be fixed with the swipe of a pen, so I ask the minister to ensure log supply is resumed as a matter of urgency.”

IMAGE: Fenning Timbers’ Brian Donchi and Leonard Fenning are concerned they will run out of logs. K326-3027