Forestry contractors put case for Federal support
Friday 21 Feb 2020
Forestry contractors estimate the bushfires have cost them over AU$10 million in work, and at least AU$25 million dollars’ worth of equipment since November, when bushfires hit the north coast of NSW. They are urging the Federal and State Governments to work together to provide immediate assistance for forestry contractors, and today that’s the message they delivered to federal MPs.
The fires have meant many of the contractors’ crews have been out of work, and with uncertainty about if and when they’ll get access to forest areas again there is no relief in sight. For Victorian contractors in East Gippsland the bushfires have exacerbated the uncertainty for their future, with many of their contracts terminated by the state government last week and a lack of clarity Andrews Government around its proposed deadline to end native forest harvesting by 2030.
The delegation included contractors from north and south NSW and East Gippsland in Victoria and are represented by the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA). The sector represents hundreds of workers in NSW and Victoria who face an uncertain future.
AFCA General Manager Stacey Gardiner thanked the MP’s who made time for them. “They listened to our concerns and understood that we’re not asking for anything extravagant,” she said. “While there is assistance for landowners in the fire affected areas, it’s not available for our members. We’d like the Federal Government to look at ways of easing access to assistance and support so contractors can stay in business and support the communities they live and work in.”
Contractor Mick Benton from Casino said: “We just want to get back to work, and get our people working again. That’s the message we gave to MP’s, and they were more than prepared to hear it.” East Gippsland Haulage Contractor Reece Reynolds said for them the future’s uncertain. “We’ve already laid off people, and our approaches to the Andrews Government asking to talk to them about closing Victoria’s native forests have been rejected,” he said. “Thankfully we got a better reception here at Parliament House, and we appreciated that someone’s prepared to listen.”
Photo: The forestry contractors' delegation with Assistant Minster for Forestry and Fisheries Senator Jonathon Duniam. (L-R) Melissa Hayward, HR Forestry, Exeter NSW. Mick Benton, Casino NSW. Lorna and Denis Greensill, Grafton. Senator Jonathon Duniam. Reece Reynolds, East Gippsland VIC. Adam Campbell, East Gippsland VIC.
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