Timber communities in Western Australia have been left ”stunned’ by the speed at which the industry is shedding workers ahead of a looming ban on the logging of native forests.
More than 20 workers at Parkside Timber’s multi-million-dollar dry mill in Manjimup, 300 km south of Perth, will be on the job que his week. It comes two weeks after 45 workers lost their jobs when Parkside closed its mill in the nearby town of Nannup.
The Queensland company says the mills would no longer be viable after the government’s closing of the native timber indsury. However, it is understood Parkside willl continue to process a small amount of timber in Nannup
Manjimup Shire president Paul Omodei says the Labor government’s handling of the native timber ban was “disgraceful.”
This is what happens when governments make political decisions about sustainable industry,” Mr Omodei said.
“The timber industry is one of the original industries in the state. For the government to do what they have done, without a social and economic impact study, is an absolute disgrace.”
Mr Omodei said the government needed to show greater commitment to creating jobs in Manjimup, the historical centre of timber logging in Western Australia.
“If the government had any good intentions they would find an alternative industry to relocate to Manjimup and employ a hundred people,” he said.
WA Forestry Minister Jackie Jarvis said there was on-the-ground support for workers in both Nannup and Manjimup to help mill workers with support payments and retraining.
“They are on the ground in these towns and will be for many weeks to come,” she said.
But the Opposition called on Ms Jarvis to hasten the implementation of its $80-million transition plan to help affected workers, businesses and communities.
The WA Opposition spokesperson for forestry Steve Martin said the government response was “inadequate and far too slow”.
“The forestry industry is already shutting down and the transition package for workers and communities is lacking in detail and delivery,” Mr Martin said.
“At a time when the industry is in desperate need of support to help transition workers and businesses away from hardwood harvesting, the McGowan Labor government clearly has no plan in place.”
(With extracts from ABC news).