Timber Industry

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — The failure of successive coalition and Labor governments to transition the logging industry to plantations and away from native forests is costing jobs. The supply problem facing Victoria's timber industry, which has caused the Heyfield mill's closure, is not that the forest has been protected but the result of mismanagement and excessive harvesting by VicForests.

There has been a lot of false information about the future of native forest logging in this state, much of which has been perpetuated in this place by the member for Narracan, who is saying that only 6 per cent of Victoria's forests were used for timber harvesting, with the other 94 per cent used for national parks and special reserves. This is a typical distortion of the facts by native forest logging proponents. The recent Victorian Environmental Assessment Council's report on the conservation values of state forests states that 59 per cent of all state forests are in general management zones or special management zones in four regional forestry agreement areas of eastern Victoria, which means, subject to other factors, they are available for regulated use by the forestry industry.

The member for Narracan has also stated that there are 4000 hectares within logging coupes set aside to protect the Leadbeater's possum. This figure is inflated, but even then it is only 0.2 per cent of forest available for logging. The member for Narracan likes to blame the Greens for job losses, but it is the Greens who have long called for a transition to sustainable plantations to sustain jobs in the timber and paper industries, whilst his government is one of those that failed to transition the industry and protect its workforce.