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City councils want to decide fate of an essential, sustainable industry

Inner-city Melbourne suburb Maribyrnong has pushed through a resolution at the Municipal Association of Victoria’s conference calling for native hardwood timber harvesting to be phased out well before 2030, Chief Executive Officer of VFPA, Deb Kerr, said today.

Maribyrnong Greens councillor Simon Crawford initiated the motion, which was overturned but then passed after a close division. “We are talking about a city council that should oversee their local issues. We don’t ask the Victoria Premier to sort out waste management – neither should Melbourne-based councils dabble in regional affairs,” Deb Kerr continued.

“Yet, they have taken it upon themselves to seek an end to native forestry even before the agreed deadline. Perversely, the votes of Melbourne-based councils count twice as much as regional votes at the conference – meaning that city councils outvote the regional councils by a “country mile”.

“So here we have an inner-city Greens councillor wanting to decide the future of an industry that is the backbone of regional Victoria, supporting jobs and communities, defending Victoria from bushfires, and supporting well over 100,000 businesses across the supply chain – many of which are based in Melbourne,” said Ms Kerr.

Melbournians love their native hardwood, showing that Melbourne-based city councils are out of step with their own constituents. A recent VFPA poll in the state district of Keysborough shows broad support for Victoria’s sustainable native hardwood industry with 68% of voters, including 57% of Greens voters, supporting the sector – and 61% support access to Victoria’s native forests to supply this timber through to and beyond 2030.

“It looks like sourcing our timber from other countries is okay for the Greens, as long as it’s not from our backyards. Instead, Councils should focus on what they’re there for, and not decide the fate of an industry producing essential products from a renewable resource – trees,” concluded Deb Kerr.

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