FEDERAL Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described the state government's decision to buy into the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods mill in Heyfield as "decisive".
While Mr Shorten was in Sale for Friday's rally against cuts to wages and conditions of UGL workers, the Gippsland Times also asked him about the ASH issue.
"I know the state government's taken pretty strong steps to try and support the Heyfield mill," Mr Shorten said.
"I do think it's important that while we preserve the environment for these possums [Leadbeater's possums], that we're not sacrificing timber worker jobs, but I think that issue seems to be moving forward.
"It's a step in the right direction."
Mr Shorten said buying into a mill was "not something you'd do every day", but it was something he supported to protect as many Heyfield jobs as possible.
"Certainly the actions of the Andrews government have seemed quite decisive in terms of supporting the mill," he said.
"I think something that the federal government can do is to make sure we have a buy Australia policy in terms of procurement from local providers.
"I think it is a silly situation where around Australia in government offices and in the photocopy machines, we're not buying more Australian paper.
"I think there are practical things.
"I think the other thing we can do to help jobs in Gippsland is backing more apprentices, backing more local procurement, and making sure we're getting proper infrastructure built not just in the cities.