The Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) welcomed the announcement that the Victorian Government would invest $650,000 in Australia’s largest hardwood sawmill.
The announcement was made last week by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, The Hon Peter Ryan.
VAFI CEO Lisa Marty said this investment, part of a $2.62 million expansion of the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods Heyfield mill, would increase the local production of high value timber products during a period where all manufacturing industries were being pressured by weak international markets, a high Australian dollar and cheap imports.
“Through this investment one of Australia’s most efficient timber manufacturing businesses will be able to expand its value-adding processes and remain internationally competitive,” Marty said.
“It will help secure an extension to the existing finger joining and laminating facility and the purchase of a new horizontal finger joiner and equipment for the joiner line, allowing for the more productive use of lower value timbers.”
Marty said these new investments would not only help secure the jobs of the mill’s 200 existing employees, but would also create 20 construction jobs during the expansion, 15 ongoing full-time equivalent jobs and six indirect jobs.
“The forest and wood products industry is one of the most important employers in Gippsland, on its own supporting more than half the Heyfield workforce,” she said.
“The products these workers make store carbon and are completely renewable.
“They are the environmental choice and this is an investment in the future of Australian manufacturing using one of the most sustainable resources we have: wood.”
The funding for this project came from Regional Development Victoria, and Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, which has invested $1.97 million.
VAFI is an industry body for the Victorian forest and wood products industry, which directly employs 24,000 people across Victoria and generates $7.5 billion in sales and services income.