Dinah Arndt’s article this morning on unemployed forestry workers highlights the sad consequences of destroying a sustainable and jobs-rich industry (Examiner Oct. 25). The Labor Government’s policy focus has clearly shifted to compensation, counselling and attempts to re-employ people who have lost their jobs. But the 1500 people looking for assistance have little to celebrate in the Forestworks CEO’s words that “providing there’s jobs out there, we’ve got a good track record of finding people work.” That’s a very big ‘if’ and a long way from the “security” that Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Giddings assured us would accompany the forests deal. Where will the new job opportunities spring from? Having decided to tear down an important industry that has operated sustainably for decades, Labor has no plan to replace lost jobs – only to counsel, compensate, and maybe find new jobs for people. But hope is not a strategy and timber communities have every reason to feel dudded by this so-called peace deal.
Timber businesses, families, and the communities that rely on them feel like their lives are on hold and their futures are being sacrificed on the altar of Labor-Greens political expediency. What have they got to show for the death of the Regional Forestry Agreement and closure of woodchip mills – one of them by Greens leader Bob Brown’s biggest donor? Where is the peace and security in the continuing protests and denigration of legal businesses in Australia and overseas? Protesters continue to hinder the operation of legal workplaces, putting the safety of protesters and workers at risk. The right of some workers to safely enter and work at their workplace is being denied. Businesses that have been devastated by the disatrous forestry agreement, feel no peace as their operations are further jeopardised by protester action.
It’s time the silent band of Labor politicians in Tasmania started speaking out for their electorates. In the current parliament it would only take one of them to make a stand and kill this dud forestry deal stone dead.