STUDENTS from Heyfield Primary School and St Michael’s Primary School, Heyfield, turned out to the Victorian Timber Workers’ Memorial in Lions Club Park Reserve on Wednesday morning to show their support for a crowd funding campaign.
Heyfield Green Mill worker Anthony Wilkes began a GoFundMe account to place a full-age advertisement in the Melbourne media pleading with Premier Daniel Andrews to intervene to save the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods mill in Heyfield.
The campaign received strong support, raising $25,382 in just 12 days from 257 donors.
A portion of the money will be used to pay for an advertisement which will appear in tomorrow’s Herald Sun, featuring a letter to Mr Andrews explaining the plight of the mill workers and Heyfield.
Poignantly, on the GoFundMe site one girl commented: “Save my dad’s work”.
Another donor commented “unbelievable that an industry that is well managed, sustainable and only uses regrowth timber is under threat”.
A local couple who donated wrote “save our town, businesses, schools, kinder, sports clubs and livelihood”.
One donor was passionate in his plea to save the mill:
“Take a look around your home, you’ll find timber, you’ll find timber in homes of the future as well, the only difference will be the timber will come from competing countries.
“They will profit from less environmental checks and balances.
“Essentially we’re swapping better environmental outcomes for worse environmental outcomes whilst sacrificing jobs and profits.”
The Heyfield Football Netball Club donated $200 to the campaign, saying it had a strong relationship with ASH.
“No mill no community. No community no sporting clubs. Don’t let it happen.”
M.A.N Made Creations, a small manufacturer of Australian hardwood furniture commented “manufacturing is hard enough without our government limiting supply which only helps to promote imports of ‘timber-like’ furniture.”
Another manufacturer also weighed in: “We are a small business manufacturing chair and couch frames in hardwood sourced in Victoria.
“We employ five people, and would certainly be affected by the closure of the ASH mill.”
A Traralgon work wear outlet which donated $500 wrote “wake up Spring Street and get this sorted (yesterday).
“Do not underestimate the downstream collateral damage on all the small to medium businesses that supply ASH and naturally the devastating impact on the community of Heyfield.
“All my staff are galvanised in their support for this to be resolved without the closure of this great manufacturing facility here in Gippsland.”
A worker who donated commented “this is my place of work along with my son and son-in-law and would like to keep it that way.”
One donor pointed out the consequences of closing the mill would have a large ripple effect.
“We have just donated $500; please help to save the Heyfield township and all the other business connected to the timber industry.
“We need all the support from the logging contractors and cartage contractors, as it will affect all of us.”
One donor wrote “born in Heyfield ... won’t sit back and watch it die ...”
Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford stopped by at the timber mill on Thursday — her first ever visit to it.