Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has this week warned that the creation of a Great Forest National Park would further cripple an already fragile jobs market within the Gippsland region.
‘Forestry and related industries are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to regional communities and for generations has provided ongoing stable employment opportunities for Gippslanders,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘We have already seen significant job losses in our region with the closure of Hazelwood and attacks on forestry will only undermine more jobs and have a huge cost for associated industries that rely on secure timber supply from our region.
‘It would be a socio-economic disaster to lose these jobs and comments recently that the creation of a Great Forest National Park would fill the void of job losses is not supported by any relevant evidence.
Mr Blackwood also said there was further risk that if significant portions of timber resource were locked away it would result in a flood of timber pouring into the Australian market from countries with less regulation.
‘By locking up Victorian high quality hardwood timber resources we run the risk of allowing countries with timber industries less regulated than ours being exploited to fill the supply gap it would create in the market.
‘Our forestry industry is successful, utilises world leading best practices and we should be proud of both its operation and the product it delivers which is among the best in the world.
‘The Great Forest National Park is a risk to the Victorian timber industry, its stability, its future and most of all a risk to our regional communities.
‘It’s time the Andrews Labor Government and Victorian Greens woke up from their dream of locking up all Victorian timber resources, because that dream is a nightmare for regional communities, the families that live in our regions and the jobs they rely on,’ said Mr Blackwood.