East Gippsland Shire Council has called on the Victorian Government to honour its commitment to establish a local native seedling nursery.
The Council says the Government’s promise of a native seedling nursery was announced in 2020 as part of its plan to move to more plantation timber and away from native forest harvesting.
The commitment to a state-owned nursery was made to support the industry and one of the directly impacted communities – Nowa Nowa – and provide 30 jobs for transitioning forestry workers, said Mayor, Tom Crook.
“Disappointingly, the Nowa Nowa site was deemed unsuitable in 2022 by the State Government, however, local communities and families held out some hope that the employment opportunities and need for the seedling nursery would be met through the announcement that it would be set up in Bairnsdale,” he said.
“Now, we’re learning that this has also been axed. We remind the Government that the creation of a native seedling nursery was a commitment it made to East Gippsland in response to its decision to bring native timber harvesting to a conclusion, and to then expedite that end date.
“It’s disappointing the Government is not delivering on the commitment it made to East Gippsland.
“We call on the government to recommit to the seedling nursery or, at the very least, explain why it is no longer proceeding and what support will be offered in its place. It’s an important opportunity for our region and one we were counting on.”
Mayor Crook said Council was also asking for other Government-led projects and support to be prioritised for East Gippsland.
“With over $800 million sitting in the state government’s native timber transition program, it’s disheartening that existing commitments to our region are being broken. This behaviour leaves us unsure about future investments. Council is ready to guide investments across key projects to ensure a more certain and prosperous future for our shire. We look forward to working with the state government to make this happen.”
“There have been commitments made to support impacted communities, such as an accommodation redevelopment at Cape Conran Coastal Park and the rebuilding of Thurra River Bridge in Croajingolong National Park, but they are taking too long. The lack of activity and certainty is having a significant impact on local businesses, families and communities, both now and in planning for the future,” he said.