Heyfield timber mill still in limbo

The future of Heyfield timber mill Australian Sustainable Hardwood remains uncertain with no progress made on a new supply deal with VicForests.

About 250 jobs are in jeopardy at the hardwood mill – the largest of its kind in Australia – after state-owned VicForests offered a substantially reduced supply contract beyond June.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford is set to stage a crisis meeting with ASH and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union on Monday as negotiations stall between the parties.

“When VicForests offered us half of what we need there was a full stop at the end of that offer,” ASH spokesman James Lantry said.

“Despite public comments by the minister they have not offered anything else.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe met with ASH representatives last week and said the State Government must act to protect jobs at the mill.

“It’s deeply disturbing to see the potential loss of jobs in the region and the potential lack of action from the government on this,” Mr Northe said.

“For a community such as Heyfield to be impacted by potentially hundreds of job losses would be catastrophic.

“It must be said that a lot of Latrobe Valley based people work at ASH, so it’s not just the Heyfield community but the wider Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region that would be impacted.”

The Committee for Gippsland has also called on the State Government to meet with ASH and lock in a supply contract in keeping with previous offers.