Timber Act lawfare loophole must be closed

Friday 21 Jan 2022

Forest & Wood Communities Australia is calling on the Andrews Government to close the loophole in the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 which has enabled activist vigilantes to devastate the livelihoods of regional Victorians. Unlike the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Section 347), the Timber Act fails to specify just who has the authority to take legal proceedings for even the most minor breaches.

“It’s a loophole which was exploited in the Supreme Court at the end of last year as part of a well-orchestrated attack on timber communities by self-interested activist groups,” said FWCA managing director, Justin Law. “It has crippled timber supply when we need it most and is putting hundreds of Victorians out of work as contractor crews are stood down and mills close.”

Mr Law said it was an embarrassment for the Andrews Government which expressly promised timber supply until the 2030 end date for native timber harvesting. “It was bad enough that Victoria’s Labor/Greens fell out of step with global thinking on sustainable forestry by announcing the end of native timber harvesting,” he said.

“But by leaving open the back door and giving power to vigilante anti-forestry activists, they are failing to keep their promise of ensuring supply until 2030 unhindered by vexatious litigation. It is an appalling double standard that could be simply fixed by introducing the clause from the Environment Protection Act into the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004”.

The Supreme Court action levelled at Victoria’s timber supply agency VicForests late last year is seeing timber production grinding to a halt.

“The premise for this latest round of vexatious litigation is to protect the ‘critically endangered’ Greater Glider,” Mr Law said. “Yet the Greater Glider is apparently so prevalent, particularly in forest regenerated after being previously harvested, that the activists are arguing that no timber production can occur without impacting their habitat. Is it only us which sees the outrageous lie in all of this?”

Source: Forest & Wood Communities Australia

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