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Accusations on plundering timber from Tasmania

30 July 2023
The Andrews government is being accused of plundering timber from Tasmania after announcing the closure of the Victorian industry. The Heyfield Mill, part-owned by the Victorian Government and operated by a private shareholder, has been importing logs from across the Bass Strait for several months.

It comes after premier Daniel Andrews’ shock announcement in May that Victoria’s native logging industry would shut down by 2024, six years earlier than previously planned and has prompted calls for the Tasmanian Government to step in and cap the amount of timber being sent to the mainland.

The Herald Sun can reveal that in the lead up to the announcement the private partners of the Heyfield Mill, with the support of the Andrews government, purchased the Western Junction Sawmill in north Tasmania and quietly began buying up local timber and shipping it back to Victoria to be processed in the state’s east.

A move that has outraged Tasmanian industry figures who warn the Andrews’ government was commercially killing local family-owned mills in Tasmania by offering above market price for timber logs. There were also concerns the increased competition for resources would undoubtedly lead to unsustainable logging in Australia’s southernmost state.

Terry Edwards, a spokesman for a coalition of Tasmanian mills, said the Victorian government “had closed its own logging industry” and was now “pillaging” resources in other states. “Our mills are concerned that they are being expected to go into competition and an open tender process, where they are required to go up against the might of the Treasury of Victoria”.

“These are family-owned sawmills. Some with over 100 years operating in regional communities of Tasmania, and they are being expected to compete with the Victorian Government who closed down its own forest industry, and is now seeking to obtain wood for its own sawmill that it owns itself in Gippsland.”

Mr Edwards said up to 40 truckloads of wood per week was now crossing the Bass Strait headed for Victorian mills, and called for the Tasmanian Government to step in “and enter into meaningful discussions with Tasmania’s forest industry to ensure that its state owned company, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, does not provide an advantage to the Victorian government”.

“The Tasmanian Government has been very clear: we are not here to fix Dan Andrews’ disastrous decision to shut down Victoria’s native forestry sector and that Tasmanian timber will support Tasmanian jobs,” he said.

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In another coverage of the story, the Andrews government has been called out for pillaging Tasmania’s timber stocks after it controversially banned native logging in Victoria earlier this year. “Basically, they need to leave our timber alone,” Tammy Bennett, business manager at TP Bennett and Sons in Tasmania, told Tom Elliott. Click here to listen to the interview.

Sources: Reddit, The Herald Sun, 3aw

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