The native-forest-logging boat is sinking. It’s old and leaky but the Labor Government keeps burning out bilge pumps trying to keep it afloat. Yet another costly pump is about to be installed.
An Industry Transition Taskforce (ITT) Mark 4, will be established to try to help logging workers deal with the ‘challenges’ they face.
The Minister for Agriculture Joe Helper visited a Gippsland mill in late July 2007 and flung around the promise of even more money to prop up this failing industry.
The Minister’s two or three person ‘farce force’ will be hand-picked industry players and will be given half a million of our money to perform. The promised new pocket-handkerchief reserves for East Gippy will be ‘evaluated’ and put in place. Their job is to make sure no jobs are lost as a result and to write yet another report (pro-industry fairy tales). The last report claimed HALF the region’s jobs relied on logging, while the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown that only 2% does.
This ‘force’ will also be given the ‘task’ to hand out more public money to the industry in the Otways when logging finally stops in 2008.
Another $1 million of our moolah will buy a Bairnsdale mill a new processing machine to saw up skinny young trees from forest regrowth. We’re not sure why they can’t pay for their own upgrades like any other industry does when circumstances change.
So add it up: half a million to pay a couple of ‘task’ people; one million to buy a mill a new sawbench; almost three million to the Otways; and another quarter of a million to the union (some would call it shut-up money). That’s more than $4.5 million-in 2007. Not to mention the $22 million ‘salvage’ money given to help VicForests and the woodchippers cut thousands of hectares of smoke-stained trees and send them overseas for pulp.
All this while the conservation side of forest management is starved for funds.