Media and policy debate in the lead up to the November 26 state election in Victoria has been largely dominated by cost of living, services and infrastructure issues.
In terms of the environment, the major parties have now delivered their energy and climate policies, and the focus in the final weeks has shifted strongly to party positions on native forest logging.
This post provides a summary of where the major parties, some minor parties and some independents stand on the issue of native forest logging.
Direct statements from the parties and candidates are in italics.
The Australian Labor Party
In November 2019 the Victorian government announced the Victorian Forestry Plan which sets an end to native forest logging by 2030. There is a transition package and plantations program attached to the forestry plan.
According to the Victorian Forests Plan:
‘In developing the Victorian Forestry Plan, the Victorian Government has aimed to strike the right balance between the environment and jobs.
In 2019 under the plan the following protections were bought in:
- Protection of 90,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining old growth forest.
- Release of the Greater Glider Action Statement.
- Exemption of a further 96,000 hectares of forest from timber harvesting across to protect more than 35 threatened species including the Leadbeater’s Possum.
In 2021, an additional $14 million package was introduced that focuses on upholding environmental standards in timber harvesting.
The package includes further regulatory changes to ensure consistency and clarify the obligations on timber harvesting and to protect our environment. For more information please see the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s website.
These additional protections will mean over 186,000 hectares are now protected from logging – equivalent to more than 100,000 MCGs and the biggest addition to Victoria’s reserve system in over 20 years’.
However, protection of Old Growth has not occurred as was promised. Check here for an ABC story on the failure by VicForests to protect these forests.
From The Victorian Greens:
‘By bringing forward Labor’s transition plan to move forestry workers into new jobs by 2023, and redeploying them to be part of an emergency response team, we can end native forest logging sooner and be prepared for impending environmental disasters.
The Greens’ plan to end native forest logging would also:
- Reverse Labor’s laws that criminalise peaceful forest protesters and also repeal the laws that lock Victoria into supplying forests to private companies until 2030.
- Process plantation timber in Victoria and set up Victoria as a national leader in alternative timber products.
- Showcase alternative forest-based economic opportunities such as an elevated forest walk tourism venture in Victoria’s central highlands.
The Parliamentary Budget Office calculates that ending native forest logging in 2023 will save Victoria $205 million dollars over the next decade.
The Coalition position
The Coalition has pledged to reverse the Andrews government’s 2019 decision to immediately end the logging of old-growth forests and phase out native forest logging by 2030.
- The Liberals
The Liberal party don’t have a commitment to ending native forest logging. That means they will oppose the Greens 2023 timeline and, if they had control of parliament, overturn the current commitment to end native forest logging by 2030.
- The National Party
The Nationals do not support a phaseout of native forest logging.
Animal Justice Party
The AJP in Victoria says ‘We will advocate for banning native forest logging and expanding native reserves and national parks to protect habitat. Government Departments must properly regulate the logging industry in Victoria and must protect threatened species’ but does not specify their timeline for ending native forest logging.
The party acknowledges the threat posed by logging to native forests and proposes ‘The replacement of timber forest logging with industrial hemp crops’. Party leader Fiona Patten says 'We must END native logging now. Not in 2030'.
Climate independents (‘teal’ independents)
There are a number of community based candidates, most of whom have strong forest protection policies. These include:
Sophie Torney (Kew)
My priorities on environmental protection include:
- Legislate to end native forest logging and bring the end date forward to 2023
Melissa Lowe (Hawthorn)
“Legislate an immediate end to native forest logging by 2024”.
Nomi Kaltmann (Caulfield)
Doesn’t state an end date for logging but says ‘We need to protect our old growth forests from the logging industry’.
Kate Lardner (Mornington)
Kate’s policy says she is committed to ‘Protecting against the logging of old growth forests in Victoria (a promise broken by the Andrews government earlier this year)’.
Be aware that there are a significant number of independents with anti environment policies. Some will use language like ‘keep our parks and forests open’, which is a common term used by pro logging groups.
Many of the ‘Freedom’ independents are driven by conspiracy theory ideas, so once again, check their policies before considering voting for them. For instance, a number of them are climate change deniers who believe ‘chemtrails’, cloud seeding and other technology is being deployed to create changes to the climate in order to ‘control the people’.
Unless they specifically say they will support an end to native forest logging it is best to assume they will back ongoing native forest logging. Many of them will funnel their votes to conservative parties, who are in favour of continued logging so it is worth directly asking independent candidates if you are considering voting for them.
The environment movement
The Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA) position
The VFA is campaigning to see a rapid end to native forest logging. You can find out more, get involved with their work, and see their score card of the parties on their website.
In the lead up to the state election we ask the Victoria government to:
- Take strong action on climate change by protecting native forests
- Immediately end native forest logging in Victoria
- Provide more funding for nature protection, forest restoration and green jobs
- Return custodianship of forests to Traditional Owners
- Protect forests to safeguard communities from future bushfire risks
- Act urgently to protect biodiversity and reverse the extinction crisis
The Victorian Forest Alliance is calling for an immediate end to native forest logging.
The Friends of the Earth position
Friends of the Earth call for all political parties to commit to:
An immediate moratorium on all native forest logging, while forest management is handed over to Traditional Owners. Place an immediate, permanent ban on all industrial native forest logging and terminate the Forests (Wood Pulp Agreement) Act 1996.
Collapse VicForests and rapidly transition to Traditional Owners’ management of Country, observing both the Sovereigns On Forests Statement 2019 and the Cultural Landscapes Strategy 2021. Provide increased funding for Traditional Owners to self-determine the management of their Country and increase funding for research, field work, and co-capacity roles (through land management agencies such as Parks Victoria) in order to hand back decision making power to Traditional Custodians as soon as possible. Engage in extensive, respectful and meaningful dialogue about the free, prior and informed consent of Traditional Owners with signatories of the Sovereigns On Forests Statement 2019, to ensure the participation of a broad range of Traditional Owner voices. Ending the logging of Bush Country and returning ‘public forests’ to First Nations people for their cultural and economic benefit should be a necessary part of the Treaty process.
- Accelerate support for all affected regions outlined in the Victorian Forestry Plan and drastically increase funds for a rapid transition and locally-generated solutions that build community resilience to climate impacts this decade. Fund guaranteed jobs in small-scale farm forestry, emergency resilience (e.g. fire prevention), roading maintenance, regenerative agriculture, bush restoration, and natural resource management for forestry workers and contractors.
FoE Forests policy
Authorised by Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith st, Collingwood.
If you are a party or candidate representative and would like extra detail added please send to [email protected]