Council blind-sided by announcement

Shock in Heyfield

Community reeling

Decision widely condemned in Gippsland

Wellington Shire Council blind-sided

WELLINGTON Shire Council said it was “blind-sided” by last week’s state government announcement that it will shut down native forest harvesting by 2030, and disappointed it wasn’t involved in any prior consultation.

Wellington Shire mayor Alan Hall said council had already met with Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield and would continue to work with it and other local mills during the transition.

“Council is actively seeking to understand what the premier’s decision will mean for our communities reliant on the timber industry,” Cr Hall said.

“The town of Heyfield has shown us in recent years that it is strong and resilient, but as a council we need to learn all the implications of this decision.”

Cr Hall said council was requesting more detail around the timing of the implementation of the new policy, plans for new plantations and what support – both financially and otherwise – the Victorian government would offer workers, businesses and communities that rely on the timber industry.

“This announcement has taken us by surprise so we are now actively trying to catch-up, as are many others directly impacted,” he said.

Council will continue active discussions with those in the local timber industry and their communities, to support them in going forward.

“We want to support the communities, with an emphasis on identifying meaningful employment prospects that will genuinely strengthen our collective position,” Cr Hall said.