Media Releases - 07 September 2023

VicForests could be nearing its end as it is stripped of State business corporation status

Logged mountain ash. Image: Justin Cally.

The Andrews government quietly revoked VicForests’ status as a State business corporation this week, in a sign that Treasurer Tim Pallas could be preparing to wind up Victoria’s state-owned logging corporation. This new order frees VicForests from the constraints of the State Owned Enterprises Act, partly clearing the way for its abolition.

Throughout one of the most scandalous examples of public mismanagement in Victoria's history, the state-owned logging corporation has catastrophically failed Victorians on every measure—social, economic and environmental.

After two decades haemorrhaging millions in public funds, repeatedly breaking the law, and failing to operate sustainably, it appears the sorry saga of VicForests is all but over.

As a part of this reclassification, the Andrews government has revoked requirements for VicForests to operate as an efficient, valuable and sustainable commercial undertaking—requirements that VicForests has consistently been unable to satisfy.

Questions remain about other preparations across government ahead of the promised end to native timber harvesting in state forests from 1 January 2024, including moves to address impossible timber supply contracts, and establish an advisory panel on further protections for biodiversity and threatened species, and areas suitable for tourism, recreation and iconic new National Parks.

A celebrated environmental legacy awaits the Andrews government if it can deliver on its promise of a more secure future for every worker and their families, the largest ever expansion to Victoria’s forest reserve system, and opportunities for First Peoples to freely exercise inherent rights to practice Culture and heal and care for Country.

Matt Landolfo, Victorian Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society, said, “This is a state-owned corporation that’s been wasting taxpayer’s money spying on concerned citizens, spreading ridiculous anti-science misinformation, and above all, presiding over multi-million dollar losses despite monopoly rent on a public resource.

“It’s no surprise the government’s waking up to the damage these outdated approaches have caused in regional Victoria given VicForests could never live up to its constituting principles of efficient, sustainable and value for money services.

“The Andrews government has an open goal in front of them now, to secure a generational environmental legacy for nature. Let’s just hope they can rise to the occasion.”

For interviews with Matthew Landolfo. Victorian Campaigns Manager, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for The Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760