- Questions on Notice No 6242
- Assembly59 Parliament First Session
- Asked: 14 October 2021
Question on Notice
Mr Bull (Gippsland East) to ask the Minister for Agriculture — The Minister recently announced five new jobs in Yarram under the timber industry transition. While the Government has provided some funds to communities like Orbost, Heyfield and Swift’s Creek, these communities are seeking some concrete answers around not only jobs, but replacement industries. These people are worried and concerned that announcements relate to only a handful of jobs here and there. They are seeking advice on the replacement industries that will be required so these towns do not collapse economically. What is the Minister's specific plan, including replacement industries, that is required for towns like Orbost, Heyfield and Swift’s Creek where more than 50 per cent of residents (many hundreds in each town) rely on the timber industry for employment.
- Answered: 25 November 2021
Question on Notice
The Victorian Forestry Plan is investing $120 million to support businesses, communities and workers as the timber industry moves forward to a plantation-based supply. The plan is long term, designed to provide time for the businesses, workers and communities to plan for their future and take on opportunities as they are created.
Local Development Strategy grants have been issued for 3 key communities – Orbost, Heyfield and Yarram and the Government is expecting to receive applications for Noojee, Yarra Ranges area, Murrindini area, Benalla and Corryong in the next month or so. These grants are for affected communities to undertake long-term planning for their future. Swifts Creek and Nowa Nowa have been delayed due to COVID and the desire for these communities to meet face to face. This work will recommence as restrictions allow.
Businesses that are ready to submit applications for the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund can do so now to commence their transition. Many businesses are taking up this opportunity to investigate the use alternative fibre and change how they undertake their operations. Australian Sustainable Hardwood in Heyfield, Radial Timber in Yarram, Longwarry Sawmill are examples.
The Radial Timber renewable energy park is an early example of the type of innovations that are available and the learnings from this could be considered elsewhere leading to long term sustainable jobs in other communities.
The transition process is about working with businesses and communities to determine their best future opportunities that will be underpinned by the support on offer through the Victorian Forestry Plan. The Government is encouraged to see the uptake of the current programs and the types of innovation being proposed as well as the change in community sentiment around the Plan.
The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP
Minister for Agriculture