Labor forest policy could swing election in key timber seats: Union

CFMEU Manufacturing

The union representing timber workers (CFMEU Manufacturing) has written to Liberal and National Party Members and candidates in timber seats calling on them to adopt key planks of Labor’s Forestry and Forest Products strategy released last week.

These include initiatives announced by Labor which will address the national timber shortage, grow more plantations for the future and invest in skills and training.

The union is seeking a response by next week and is warning that timber communities’ votes may swing against the Coalition in marginal seats such as Bass, Braddon, Eden-Monaro, Page, Indi, Lyons and Gilmore if they don’t match Labor’s commitments.

“Federal Labor’s strategy for the industry is superior to the Government’s. Our members are concentrated in key seats, and they’ll be keenly interested in the response to our asks,” said Michael O’Connor CFMEU National Secretary, Manufacturing.

“Scott Morrison said that his Government does not sneer at the jobs of regional Australians; he now has an opportunity to back up his words with actions, and match these policies.”

The government needs to match the commitments Labor has around:

· better utilising locally grown logs

· abolishing the Morrison Government’s irrational “water rule” preventing plantation establishment

· $10 million for skills development in the industry

The union has asked the Coalition members to commit to undertaking an assessment of logs exported and wasted which could be used to help alleviate the crippling national timber shortage, and to abandon the inclusion of forestry in the controversial Agriculture visa.

A modern industry needs a skilled local workforce, not a reliance on temporary labour prone to exploitation,” Mr O’Connor said.

Link to letters to Coalition MPs and candidates in Eden-Monaro, Calare, Gippsland, Wannon, Page, Gilmore, Braddon, Monash, Indi, Barker, Bass and Lyons

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