SHADOW Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Opposition Leader Peter Walsh, and Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull met Australian Sustainable Hardwoods management at the Heyfield mill on Tuesday morning.
Mr Walsh said there was no doubt a change in government policy on timber supply has led to this situation of uncertainty around the mill’s future.
“There were contracts on the table at the 2014 election for the quantity of timber that ASH is seeking to remain in business and the only reason it is not there now is a change in policy and that needs to change back.
“The resource is there,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Bull reinforced the Nationals’ position on the availability of timber.
“VicForests itself has stated the reason the timber supply offer has reduced is the additional areas that have been placed into reserve primarily for Leadbeater Possum habitat.”
“This means we’ve had a net loss of resource and when this occurs, something has to give,” Mr Bull said.
“The government can solve this; all it needs is the will to do so.
“The company has discussed longer-term supply options and while that needs to take place, a short-term solution for timber supply needs to be reached and that is what the government must commit to.”
Also at the meeting were Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien and Eastern Region MLC Melina Bath.