Unless it’s recycled paper, Liberal Nationals’ paper plan will liquidate Victoria’s forests

The Victorian Opposition must commit to a sustainable wood and fibre industry by backing only paper made from recycled fibre, not paper made from native forests.

Yesterday’s commitment from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and Nationals Leader Peter Walsh, to flood government photocopiers and printers with Australian-made paper, risks liquidation of Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests, which are in a state of collapse due to unsustainable logging.

“The Opposition’s claim that Victoria’s timber and paper industries are sustainably using forests shows the Liberal-Nationals are in denial about the state of our Mountain Ash forests, which are badly over-logged, heavily impacted by bushfire and in a state of collapse,” said Wilderness Society Victorian Campaigns Manager, Amelia Young.

“The only way Australian Paper can secure uncontroversial fibre is by using plantations and recycled fibre.”

In 2013 the then Baillieu-Napthine government helped fund Nippon / Australian Paper’s  de-inking facility to make recycled paper. Australian Paper is wholly owned by Japanese paper giant, Nippon.

Australian Paper has a contract with the state government to be supplied with wood from native forests proposed for protection in the Great Forest National Park. The contract was enshrined in legislation by the Kennett Liberal government in the 1990s, and runs until 2030.

Conservationists and scientists have long called for a suspension of wood supply due to the catastrophic 2009 bushfires, which burnt 72,000 hectares of Ash forest.

“If the Liberal Nationals paper plan relies on products from native forests, it gives false hope. The timber resource is running out due to bad forest management, over-logging and bushfires.”

Australian Paper manufactures the Ultra-White Reflex brand, and other products, from these forests.

“The Opposition’s claim that the Andrews government has ‘locked up timber resources’ is fanciful, given the Andrews government has simply continued the Liberal National Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group policy, which stipulates that an inadequate 200m logging buffer be implemented where possums are sighted.”

“The Andrews government is the worst in 60 years, having protected fewer forests than any other Victorian government.”

“If Matthew Guy wants to be the Premier for all of Victoria, he should commit to creating the Great Forest National Park in the first 100 days of office, if elected.”

The Great Forest National Park will deliver for all Victorians by securing valuable water resources, creating more than 700 full-time, sustainable jobs, and supporting industries that can co-exist rather than the dead-end native forest logging industry that disbenefits all other industries and destroys forests.

“The Nationals candidate for Morwell, Sheridan Bond is right: jobs are a number one concern in the La Trobe Valley. But rather than propping up unsustainable logging jobs and paper made from endangered forests, the action that’s required is for the paper industry to exit native forests.”  

For comment: Amelia Young 0404 074 577