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East Gippsland Shire vote to support repeal of native timber ban


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Last night in the heartland of the Victorian sustainable native timber sector – East Gippsland Shire council sat in consideration of a motion supporting the world class Victorian sustainable native timber sector – After hearing an emotional public submission from FWCA Executive Officer Mick Harrington alongside a desperate plea from local councillor Sonia Buckley for council (who authored the motion) – council Voted 5 to 2 in favour of the motion – cementing East Gippsland Shire as another Victorian council calling on the Andrews Labor government to repeal the statewide ban on sustainable native timber harvesting.

In his public submission FWCA Executive Office Mick Harrington spoke of the damage this decision has had on timber communities all over Victoria “It isn’t the numbers that keep me up at night – it is the stories of mental health breakdown, family separations and financial hardship that do”.

Aside from the motion calling for the sustainable native timber industry ban to be reinstated by state government – it also called on the federal government to “support a taxpayer-funded public information campaign to explain the importance of the native hardwood timber industry and dispel the myths perpetuated by environmental activists”.

Perhaps most importantly however it is now official council position that “located within the Shire is a world-class and sustainable native hardwood timber industry in Australia which delivers social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits for our nation”.

The council vote, held in front of a crowd of approximately 40 locals was supported by councillors Buckley, Van Diggele, Stow, White and Deputy Mayor Allen but was by no means unanimous, with councillors Tom Crook and Mendy Urie (a former Mayor) choosing not to support the motion – which was aimed at supporting the most vulnerable in the East Gippsland community via the support of one of the most important industries within the region.

Top (From Left to Right) Cr Sonia Buckley (in favour), Cr Tom Crook (voted against), Cr Jane Greacen OAM (absent), Cr Arthur Allen (in favour), Cr Kirsten Van Diggele (in favour), Cr John White (in favour) Front (Left to Right) Cr Trevor Stow (in favour), Cr Mendy Urie (against), Cr Mark Reeves (absent)

It seems that councillor Buckley felt some frustration during the meeting saying in her right of reply speech that “This is not a place for grandstanding for any of us – this is a place where we fight for community, fight for what is right, for our economy and families”.

Latrobe City council (widely condemned by timber communities and industry) – now stands alone in an unenviable position as the only one of the three neighboring local government areas in Eastern Victoria who have not publicly called for a continuation of the sustainable native timber sector – With Wellington Shire Mayor Ian Bye scathing of the premature end to the industry alongside neighboring East Gippsland Shire council now publicly on the record in favor of this sustainable sector and the myriad of benefits it has for communities, families, bushfire mitigation and the wider economy.

For further comment, please contact
FWCA executive officer Michael Harrington;

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