Media Releases - 22 July 2020

Wilderness Society response to log truck presence at Traralgon Bunnings store

  • Timber industry uncertainty will continue so long as hinged to native forest wood
  • Timber jobs must be supported to transition to plantations
  • There is no ban on local timber, Bunnings is just not buying illegally logged timber

“Uncertainty in the Victorian timber industry has been years in the making and arises from bad forest management, from overlogging, and the bulk of wood sourced from native forests being sent to pulp for paper, and not to sawmills for timber products,” says Wilderness Society National Campaigns Director, Amelia Young. 

“While we strongly oppose the policy stand the CFMMEU is taking here, we do respect their right to protest. Governments of all persuasions have sought to constrain the rights of unions and environmentalists to peacefully protest alike, and the Morrison Government is still considering imposing draconian blanket bans on secondary boycotts.  

“There are hundreds of regional jobs involved in the Victorian native timber sector and these are important. That’s why the state government must support the industry to transition out of native forests and into plantations. 

“Especially after the 2019-20 bushfires, which burnt over 1.2 million hectares of Victorian forest, and in the context of COVID-19, Government should urgently bring forward support for timber carters and sawmill workers to move into processing plantations, or risk escalating uncertainty by forcing sawmills and workers to remain hinged to unsustainable—and potentially unlawful—native forest wood supply. 

“The future of the Victorian wood and fibre industry is in plantations, and Gippsland sawmills must be supported to invest in the skills and machinery required to process plantation timber. 

“Bunnings’ recent decision to discontinue sourcing from notoriously unreliable state government loggers VicForests should not come as a surprise to anyone, and strongly signals the future direction of the industry—that is, lawfully harvested timber, and plantation supply. 

“There is no ban on local timber, Bunnings is just not buying unlawfully logged timber. Surely the CFMMEU isn’t demanding that Bunnings place illegal timber on its shelves? 

“Some Victorian sawmills have been preparing to process plantation wood for years, and have the machines to process plantation wood—the solution is to use these machines. 

“Already 87% of structural timber used in Australia is sourced from plantations. For timber to build furniture and homes, the Wilderness Society recommends FSC Full Forest Management certified plantation grown timber, or recycled timber. 

“Orbost is no longer a timber town—there’s no sawmill there anymore and hasn’t been for years. In this debate, we need a clear focus on the shape of the industry today, not a nostalgic view of an industry from a bygone era. 

“Timber millers and retailers cannot be expected by anyone, not even the CFMMEU, to ignore customers’ reasonable expectations that they process and sell only legally-logged timber. The CFMMEU should be focused on VicForests and its inability to meet market and legal expectations. 

“Logging that causes wildlife extinction or that is illegal is unacceptable no matter where it is sourced from—the Amazon, or Australia, or elsewhere,” Amelia Young concluded.

For more information call Tim Beshara on 0437 878 786