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Key Victorian state seats oppose native forest logging subsidies

  • 75% of Monbulk residents reject subsidies for logging Leadbeater’s Possum habitat.
  • Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group’s findings expected at Monbulk Community Cabinet meeting today.
  • Leadbeater’s Possum needs large Great Forest National Park to survive.

The vast majority of people in two key Victorian marginal seats oppose the continued use of taxpayer money to subsidise native forest logging, according to a recent poll by Lonergan Research.

Half of the respondents supported government subsidies of industries, yet 72 per cent of voters polled in Monbulk and Bentleigh oppose the use of their taxes to subsidise VicForests’ logging of native forests that threaten the state’s endangered animal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum. In Monbulk, 75 per cent of residents opposed such subsidies.

“If the Coalition is serious about listening to the people’s concerns with its Community Cabinet meetings, it should listen to the community at this evening’s meeting in Monbulk,” said Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager, Amelia Young.

“The residents are opposed to the continued waste tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money every year in propping up native forest logging and failing government logging agency VicForests, and guaranteeing the extinction of the Leadbeater’s Possum.”

Recommendations of the state government’s Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group, headed up by Zoos Victoria and Victorian Association of Forest Industries, are expected to be tabled at this evening’s Cabinet meeting.

“The Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group was asked how to maintain logging, so we are concerned that its recommendations will not address the demise of either the logging and pulp industry, or the Leadbeater’s Possum,” Ms Young said.

“The Victorian Government’s logging is driving the Leadbeater’s Possum to extinction fast, mostly to make Reflex paper. Almost half of the Leadbeater’s Possum habitat was burnt in the tragic 2009 fires, so the remaining forest is critical for its survival.

“There are fewer than 1,500 Leadbeater’s Possums remaining in the wild, with significant areas of their remaining forest habitat still targeted for logging. It needs substantially more forest to survive. Any small increase in forest set aside for the Leadbeater’s Possum won’t be good enough.

“Establishing a Great Forest National Park that is sufficient in size to restore the forest will provide the animal a real opportunity to fight extinction.

“The Wilderness Society will be looking for recommendations that will protect the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction, and will deliver long-term security to the industry. The Great Forests National Park combined with a sensible industry modernisation plan would achieve both.

Key findings of the poll are:

  • One in two Victorians (51 per cent) living in the Bentleigh and Monbulk electorates support the use of taxpayers' money to provide subsidies to industries generally.
  • Fewer than one in three (29 per cent) support the use of their taxes to subsidise VicForests.
  • Almost two out of three (64 per cent) do not support continued government subsidies to VicForests in logging areas where the Leadbeater’s Possum lives.
  • With the knowledge that the Leadbeater’s Possum is endangered, three quarters of respondents in Monbulk oppose continued government subsidies to VicForests.

For further comment and more information on the polling:

The Wilderness Society Victoria Campaigns Manager Amelia Young on 0404 074 577

The Wilderness Society Media Adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168