Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Regulations and Determinations

Industry Research and Development (Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program) Instrument 2020; Disallowance

6:38 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I'll take that interjection, Mr President. Merry Christmas, Senator Gallagher! Merry Christmas to you too!

The sustainable industry supports thousands of rural and regional jobs and businesses, like the ANC Forestry Group in Morwell. The ANC is dedicated to the Gippsland region and provides long-term employment for many workers, from truck drivers and machine operators to mechanics and administration staff. ANC and many others in the forest industry have worked hard to keep their community employed and engaged during these tough times. Our government has been prepared to stand with them, to give real and practical support targeted at those forestry communities impacted by the bushfires. Being part of our broader COVID response, it's been so responsive in these difficult times and has actually responded to each and every industry in a different, unique and targeted way, which has meant we are in a very good position relative to the rest of the world.

This is an industry that contributes around $24 billion of economic turnover to our economy each and every year. We've got hundreds of thousands of jobs in the broader supply chain. There are 80,000 people in the industry value chain. We roll these numbers off our tongues as if tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—

An honourable senator interjecting—

Do you know what they are, Senator? They are actual people feeding their families in a sustainable industry, paying mortgages, educating their kids, playing sport on the weekend, volunteering at their local sporting clubs. And you know what? There are 80,000 of them in the industry value chain. The fact that you stand up here and do not care about them and their children's future is, I think, an indictment on each and every one of you.

Every year the Australian forestry industry plants around 70 million trees so that—guess what?—in 50 years we can harvest them. Then we can plant them again, and again and again and again. That is what a renewable resource is all about. The forestry industry is the ultimate renewable industry. That is equivalent to 136,000 football fields; I do love my sporting analogies! That is more than two seedlings for each and every Australian every year. And the Greens political party, as Senator Macdonald used to call them, wants to shut this down.

In August the Greens and the Labor Party showed their contempt for rural and regional Victorian families in their pathetic failed attempt to shut down Victoria's sustainable timber industry. Ending native harvesting in Victoria, as the Andrews Victorian government announced in November 2019, is a devastating decision for regional communities. It means job losses, mill closures and negative impacts on regional communities in towns like Orbost, Heyfield, Benalla, Corryong and many more. Seven mill owners across Victoria were so concerned by the Andrews Labor government that they formed the Victorian Hardwood Sawmillers Association. Led by Leonard Fenning, who operates Fenning Timber in Bairnsdale, they are focused on promoting the economic benefits of their industries. Groups like AFPA— (Time expired)


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