It will be the end of an era for Walkers Sawmill after 87 years of operation under three generations of the family. Current owner, Graham Walker, was in Corryong on Friday to announce the closure of the mill to its 21 employees.
In a Letter to the Editor [Corryong Courier], Mr Walker said “It’s the hardest decision I have ever made but it was the right decision for our employees.”
On April 20, I received a letter from Minister Gayle Tierney regarding our participation in the opt-out scheme to hand back our 2024 saw log license. The letter dated the 15th of April gave us 15 days to accept the offer and it was important for me to consider the long-term employees who could receive the maximum redundancy from the Victorian government.
“If we were to continue business as usual, we had no certainty of saw log quantity from VicForests as they are still embroiled in battle with ‘Friends of the Forest’ and court injunctions and they had only guaranteed 55% of our 19,000m3 allocation”
Should I have chosen this path to continue, the employees would only get their entitlements from our company once June 2024 came and log supplies had dried up.” Mr Walker laid the blame for the mill closure squarely at the feet of the Victorian government.” The decision to end native forest logging is ripping small communities like Corryong apart,” he said.”
Our business has been supporting wages since 1965 and the flow-on effect to all our suppliers will be felt heavily as over $4.5-5m per year was going into the economy and supporting other businesses.” Towong mayor, Cr Andrew Whitehead, said that because of Corryong’s low population and remoteness the loss of a job there had a far greater impact than in larger towns and cities.
Source: Australian Rural & Regional News