VFPA welcomes transition package in principle, but is disappointed that it benefits some and punishes others
The native hardwood industry welcomed today’s announcement by Minister Tierney to offer additional support for workers, contractors, communities and new regional businesses but was disappointed that the mill exit package doubly punished those businesses that had acted in good faith, said Deb Kerr, CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA).
“As details about the exit package come to light, it’s evident that our mills are being punished twice. They have invested tens of millions of dollars in new manufacturing facilities to see them through to and beyond the originally announced 2030 deadline – a deadline that the government has reiterated numerous times since the original 2019 announcement”, Deb Kerr explained.
Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Gayle Tierney today announced expanded and new measures for workers, contractors, communities and other regional businesses, while the future of forest produce licences is still unclear.
Immediate measures include:
- Increased financial support for workers, such as increased Worker Support Payment caps and new support for workers over 45, and
- Businesses and communities can now access Round 1 of the $36 million Forestry Transition Fund to support their region’s transition and employ native timber workers.
- Forest Produce Licence holders will be able to access a new Community Forestry Support Package in October.
- Harvest and haulage sub-contractors, chip truck drivers and other businesses that are heavily dependent on the native timber industry will be eligible for Plant and Equipment payments and the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund.
- Planning is underway for Harvest and Haulage contractors to be engaged to deliver DEECA land management works.
“While we welcome the additional support for workers, contractors, communities, and new regional businesses, it is hard to fathom how the government has treated native hardwood mills who had acted in good faith. This is not how a government acts that wants to promote Victoria as a prime location for business. As the main body advocating for wood and wood fibre businesses in Victoria, we will continue to fight for better outcomes for our industry”, Ms Kerr concluded.