The Andrews Labor Government is ramming through new laws that are set cut down Victoria’s Timber Industry, leaving timber workers vulnerable to a range of new serious criminal offences and trashing proper community and industry consultation.
Under new criminal offences being proposed by the Andrews Labor Government under its Forests Legislation Amendment (Compliance and Enforcement) Bill, timber workers will face the risk of being prosecuted for undertaking timber harvesting without any right to defend themselves.
The proposed new laws will make it a criminal offence if timber harvesters fail to comply with allocation orders made under the Code of Practice for Timber Production. The Labor Government has said the new laws would be “harmonised” to comply with obligations contained in the Code of Practice.
The Andrews Labor Government announced on 30 June this year it was “overhauling” the Code of Practice and had invited feedback on its draft amendments. However, the Andrews Labor Government has failed to release its proposed new Code of Practice, leaving the entire timber industry in the dark over what they can and cannot do.
This has left timber workers in an untenable situation and they will have no idea whether they will be breaking the law or not.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Bridget Vallence:
“Timber workers have been treated disgracefully by the Andrews Labor Government.
“Not only has the Andrews Labor Government threatened the livelihoods of thousands of timber workers across Victoria with their destructive policies, they are now subjecting timber workers with criminal offences with no chance of defending themselves.
“Timber workers face fines of up to $21,000 under these bad new laws, with timber harvesting companies facing fines of up to a staggering $109,000.
“It’s clear this Andrews Labor Government want to cut down Victoria’s thriving timber industry and is targeting timber workers with these excessive unfair laws.
“The Andrews Labor Government has demonstrated they will cut down anyone who gets in their way, and they have timber workers firmly in their sights.
“The Liberal Nationals are sick and tired of this Labor Government riding roughshod over the timber industry and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with timber workers against these unfair laws.
“I am calling on the Andrews Labor Government to immediately withdraw this Bill and allow proper consultation to take place on the new proposed Code of Practice.
“It makes no sense to ram through these new unfair laws that target timber workers when the timber industry doesn’t even know what requirements will be contained in the new Code of Practice.”