Statement

October 5, 2021

The Forests Legislation Amendment (Compliance and Enforcement) Bill 2019 will increase opportunities for prosecution against VicForests contractors in a move we believe is unnecessary and excessive.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is perplexed the government had passed a Bill dealing with the timber logging industry before the release of a new Code of Practice, which is due before the end of the year.

It is incumbent upon the government to ensure adequate transition models to ensure towns, jobs and the industry can survive post native timer logging.

The native timber industry is incredibly important to communities in Northern Victoria. The discontinuation of the industry already has people concerned about how they will transition away from what has been a sustainable industry.  Unknown regulations and greater fines only increase this uncertainty.

The new minimum penalty for individual timber workers will increase $21,000, while protesters who enter worksites will be fined a little over $3,600.

The global timber shortage currently felt across Victoria, resulting in market prices skyrocketing, serves as a warning for the government ahead of its phase-out of the Victorian native timber industry.

TThese decisions have wide-ranging impacts, not least for regional communities but will affect the availability of timber for residential and commercial projects across the state.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is critical of a lack of consultation on the bill, the penalties are too harsh and responding to a loophole out of the historic ‘Take Me Home’ failed legal action by DELWP against VicForests.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party supports a continuation of sustainable logging practices, balanced against environmental protections.

According to Timber Towns Victoria, there are more than 2,500 people directly employed in the native timber industry along with thousands of indirect jobs, in total adding $300 million to regional economies.

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party expressed concern the proposed $120 million phase-out packages announced by the Victorian government in 2019 would not be enough to support community transition away from native timber.