Community outcry over Victorian government's native logging ban

The sudden ban, set to take effect in January, sparks widespread concern among rural communities.

Community outcry over Victorian government's native logging ban
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A Victorian Government ban on native logging would destroy entire communities, furious locals have warned.

The ban, announced in the state budget last week, is due to take effect in January.

The move was celebrated by environmentalists who worry that logging will lead to wildlife extinction.

But people in affected communities have warned that many people will need to move elsewhere to find alternative work.

And they were angry that they only learned about the government’s ban through social media.

“It’s like we don’t exist,” Ang Savage told The Age. “I found out on Facebook.”

Savage is a single mother of two children who works at a timber supplier in Heyfield east of Melbourne.

She slammed the government’s promises to retrain people for other jobs, saying that even if she took up the government’s offer of TAFE training, the nearest TAFE was more than an hour’s drive away.

And she didn’t know what job she could be retrained for in order to remain in her local community.

“If the jobs aren’t there, it doesn’t matter how much training we get offered or how much training we have,” she said.

CFMEU national manufacturing secretary Michael O’Connor said he had quit the government’s “sham” forestry advisory body in disgust at ban and the lack of consultation.

He said he had no confidence that the government was serious about helping workers find alternative jobs after blindsiding the industry by announcing native logging bans without talking to the people affected.

He said the government was more interested in having something to announce on budget day than it was about people’s lives.

“When your media strategy becomes more important than public policy, that’s a government that’s lost the plot,” he said.

Richard Pelz, whose family-run business collecting sawdust from sawmills employs 30 staff, said it was likely he would have to close down.

“That’s a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “You’d think they’d have the balls to come up and see you.”

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  • By Avi Yemini

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