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  MyEnvironment Inc / Opinion / A local menu of politics, elections and woodchips  

A local menu of politics, elections and woodchips

Sarah Rees

Reading a story from the Leader I pondered a response to MP Christine Fyffe’s unsurprising bellow for protection of the native logging industry. The story clearly sets up some self promotion for the local elections and would-be wood-chip councillors for the Shire of Yarra Ranges, with Coalition leader Christine Fyffe at the helm. Fyffe has strong historical links to Reid Bro’s native sawmill and is a long term lobbyists for loggers yet she has been silent on the closure of our major local education institution - Swinburne TAFE and cuts to CFA funding. While Fyffe piously defends the insolvent VicForests and it’s limpids, if the Coalitions wood-chip mob are elected to Council the Yarra Ranges may be better named Shire of Reflex Ranges - owned by Nippon Paper.

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Sarah Rees

Reading a story from the Leader I pondered a response to MP Christine Fyffe’s unsurprising bellow for protection of the native logging industry. The story clearly sets up some self promotion for the local elections and would-be wood-chip councillors for the Shire of Yarra Ranges, with Coalition leader Christine Fyffe at the helm. Fyffe has strong historical links to Reid Bro’s native sawmill and is a long term lobbyists for loggers yet she has been silent on the closure of our major local education institution - Swinburne TAFE and cuts to CFA funding. While Fyffe piously defends the insolvent VicForests and it’s limpids, if the Coalitions wood-chip mob are elected to Council the Yarra Ranges may be better named Shire of Reflex Ranges - owned by Nippon Paper.

Here are some quick facts on the industry and what are the lynch mob are defending?  The following financial snapshot has been compiled from data taken from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Regional Economics, economic analysis from the Shire and VicForests Annual Report.

According to Shire figures, the total output estimate for Yarra Ranges (i.e. its whole economy) is $10,517.964 million - $10.5 billion. The Forestry, Fishing & Hunting sector contributes $25.978 million (0.2 %) of this total output. 

Lilydale’s Swinburne TAFE, contributed $48 million in local return to the area. It also provided opportunities for education in the region to advance people from low socio-economic situations, unlike logging that continues to survive succored to tax payer hand outs.

In terms of employment there are approximately 34,900 jobs in Yarra Ranges, around 250 of them in Swinburne TAFE. The data shows that there are 56 direct jobs in forestry and logging (fishing and hunting). That’s 0.16% of our community that are directly employed.

The tourism sector is worth $380 million to our Yarra Ranges community yet Ms Fyffe endorses VicForests' strip mining the premiere backdrop of one of Victoria’s richest tourism assets - the Yarra Valley - and the people who are trying to stop it are being assaulted and defamed by her and her logging comrades, she, herself, calling conservationists ‘terrorists’. Its a piteous mark on the Baillieu government and with recent polling showing Ms Cindy McLeish MP (seat of Seymour - home of Nippon's woodchipping) being the first head to roll in the election, poll results leaked by concerned Liberals, the issues are coming home to roost.
 
 Solution: According to recent statistics from ABARE, Victoria has the largest hardwood and softwood plantation estate in Australia and the solution is to transition Nippon Paper's chip dependance off our native forests and into waiting plantations thereby protecting water, species and encouraging diversified economies from state parks.
 
 When you go to vote - ask the question whether your candidate has a clear message to protect the Shire's environment - Melbourne and our local economy depend on it.