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Heyfield Mill Rally

Your thoughts, your photos.

"This has been going on for two years - the government have been ginning around making a decision on our resource, and the greater majority of the decisions have been made based on hype and false allegations..."

"We've already suffered with Hazelwood, it just keeps on digging us down. Support us a little bit. Support our communities. Support the country."

"Ray at the timber line says he'll have to cut back his staff at the servo... plus other different things - the bakery, i'm sure the two school won't be able to keep running..."

"It's ridiculous - they've chosen the possums over the livelihood of people."

"It's a horrible feeling to not know where you're gonna be in the next 12 months. You work all your lives to establish your life, and all of a sudden you could be uprooted and not know where you are. It's awful."

"They've just had that flow on effect throughout the whole community but its not just Heyfield, it's the whole of Gippsland."

"The world doesn't end at Pakenham - there is a country out there."

"[Daniel Andrews] needs to realize that we're people. We have futures. He is playing with our livelihoods, our lives. Without the mill, Heyfield doesn't exist."

"The other week I was up at the doctors and I spoke to one of the local doctors and I said how it was going and he said, "We're flat out. We've got guys coming in that don't know what to do. We've got grown men coming in, in a mess, because they don't know how they're gonna support their families."

"The community of Heyfield and the community of wider Gippsland is sending a very clear message today - they are down here in droves So the government MPs that have been walking up steps this morning, past the log trucks, past the signs, they have been a little bit taken aback. I don't think they realize the level of support that is out there, not only in Gippsland but in country Victoria. There are people here from all over the state and from interstate that are simply saying enough is enough." - Tim Bull, Member for Gippsland East.

Article continues below

To Daniel Andrews,

I have lived in Gippsland my entire life and the Gippsland that I know and love is in grave danger.

Make no mistake; the decision to reduce the timber allocation to Australian Sustainable Hardwoods is just a stepping-stone to quashing the timber industry as a whole and I fear the implications of your decision and the demise of this historic industry.

I am a wife and a mother and although Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield is not my employer, my family and I will be directly or indirectly impacted by the closure or scaling back of this world-class mill. Get your head out of the sand, this decision does not just mean the loss of 250 jobs in Heyfield but will impact employment across Gippsland and Victoria.

My father has worked in the timber industry most of his adult life, my step mother is one of the 250 people whose livelihoods are currently under threat by your Government and my brother in law provides for his family by working alongside my father in the timber industry. How do you expect my family and those employed in the timber industry to survive without the income that this industry provides?

My husband and I run a small business just ten minutes drive from Heyfield. We have already seen a significant drop in business due to the dairy pricing crisis. How would we as small business owners be able to withstand the termination of this mill and the inevitable ruin of the timber industry? How would we be able to keep the two local employees on the payroll with yet another fall in business?

We currently purchase and use sustainable hardwood products from local mills. If the bush is locked up here in Gippsland then suppliers will be forced to source timber products from unsustainable overseas logging, where profits far outweigh the importance of protecting the environment. The impact of this will be devastating and we would be contributing to environmental disaster.

I understand and value the need for conservation and I do not want to see the extinction of the Leadbeater possum. However, a compromise needs to be made to protect the jobs of ASH workers and protect the endangered Leadbeater possum. Surely Vic Forests and the Victorian Government have the intelligence and expertise to devise a solution that would be acceptable for all relevant parties? Australia has specific organisations in place and strict regulations to safe guard against environmental degradation; therefore, don’t you think that we are in a far better position to provide timber for commercial sale?

I am a proud to call Gippsland home but in recent history, we as Gippslanders have had to endure one hit after the next. The imminent closure of Hazelwood Power Station and the dairy industry crisis have had a significant impact on the people of Gippsland and now you are set to bring about the closure of the mill in Heyfield? How much more do you really think that Gippslanders can take? The people of this region are hurting and we see no end in sight due to the neglect from you and your Government in Melbourne.

Finding employment in regional areas is becoming more and more difficult and if you take away yet another source of employment, where do you expect these proud family men and women to earn a living? The closure of ASH will force people to seek employment elsewhere having a devastating impact on the local businesses in and around Heyfield. Heyfield will become a ghost town.

Gippsland is a fruitful and prosperous region that produces quality products and provides amazing opportunities. I would like to see this continue for the sake of my daughter’s future.

Please don’t forget the people of Gippsland.

Regards,

Michelle Mawhinney

Dear Premier Andrews,

I am not what you would call a typical "Conservative" or what the locals refer to as a "bloody greenie" I have worked in the Firewood Industry but have also studied Conservation and Land Management.

My family history with the bush stretches back generations, my Grandfather cut the Yellow Box and Redgum of the Gippsland Plains and so did my father. Supplying a heavily diminished resource to the local RAAF base for boilers and heating and later to the wider households of our great region. As experts are now aware this was particularly damaging to a Vegetation type which is now exceedingly rare.

What I'm trying to say here is ..... i understand the need for sustainability in our forests. But the thing is.... we also need sustainable communities. The job opportunities in our region have long been limited and with the closure of ASH Heyfield Mill you are directly impacting the lives of not only the 250 workers of the Mill but the many hundreds of Vicforests Staff, Logging Contractors, Tradesman, Stair and Joinery manufacturers, Transport Operators, Local Shop Owners, and a plethora of others and of course their families.

You are choosing to shutdown one of the best renewable resources we have, Naturally grown Australian Hardwood.

As i am sure your various staffers and Aides have informed you it only takes a very small percentage of the forest to supply the Heyfield Mill. Also, our forests don't do anywhere the damage that monocultures of Plantation timber do. In the bush there is not the intense chemical use that Plantations require or the extent of damage to the wider landscape. It would have taken only a few short years to transition to Plantation timber or another Eucalypt species, but you will not even give us that.

But you already know this. You choose to place the back room political dealings with an extremist political party like the greens and their incredulous claims regarding the Leadbeaters Possum over the needs of the Heyfield, East Gippsland and Victorian people. Although likely you don't care as all we are is are is a bunch of "National Party Voters".

Thankyou for showing the communities of East Gippsland your true colours. We look forward with relish to Election time. Perhaps then you will come to realise the folly of putting Politics before people and Spin above substance.

Regards, Michael Harrington