It started off with cross cut saws and bullocks, then to chainsaws and bulldozers, now the future is in computerised harvesting machines in plantations.
The logging union has recently been outraged about the need to import skilled workers to fill the new jobs in the plantation industry. They have also been outraged about the loss of jobs in native forest logging. We ‘greenies’ have been outraged about the logging of forests for the past 30 years. The solution is now staring everyone in the face. Environmentalists saw it coming long ago but the others are still just catching up.
There are 300,000ha of plantations in western Victoria and the Green Triangle. They will soon need up to 1,100 workers to start processing the trees. Hi-tech computerised harvesters and the new machines being used. In late August Howard offered to trial a new relocation plan for workers to get up to $5,000 to move to where the jobs are. It’s all there just waiting to fall into place. In the past, the industry and union has been too busy arguing about access to native forests to see what was looming ahead. It’s now staring right at them.
The logging industry has always had a large transient work force. There should be plenty who would jump at this opportunity. For those who have established their homes and lives in East Gippsland, they could either move into the low volume high value end of the market or take on work that the growing tourism industry will be offering. Not in selling Devonshire teas but in building and maintaining tourism infrastructure.
Enter Mr Bracks
The transfer of jobs to plantations is occurring. The dirty dangerous work and insecure future of logging forests should now be relegated to the history books. We just need Mr Bracks to help this transition occur smoothly and offer training for those who want it. We will then have a conflict free wood products industry and our native forests left standing.