Cameron attacks government over Maryvale mill jobs

Still fighting: Gippsland Nationals MP's Melina Bath (Eastern Victoria Region) and Member for Morwell Martin Cameron, have taken the state government to task for failing to provide any clarity on timber supply for Maryvale Mill workers. photograph supplied

Staff Writers

THE state government is yet to provide any clarity on timber supply for Opal’s Maryvale mill, with workers still in limbo, according to Nationals MP Martin Cameron.

Employees this week were informed that the state-owned government agency, VicForests, has been unable to resolve the wood supply situation which resulted in workers being stood down and the local manufacturing of white copy paper ceased.

The state government’s refusal to close loopholes in the Timber Code of Practice enabled activists to take out court injunctions to stop legal timber harvesting operations and starve the mill of its timber supply.

The Nationals Member for Morwell, Mr Cameron, said it was devastating to see the last roll of Australian made white copy paper coming off Maryvale’s M5 line only hours before Christmas.

“The Andrews government’s failure to allocate an alternate wood supply to secure Latrobe Valley jobs at the Maryvale mill is a disgrace,” Mr Cameron said.

“Labor’s covert strategy to orchestrate a shutdown as Christmas holidays commenced is underhanded and deliberately white-anted workers.

“White copy paper manufacturing jobs are being sacrificed by Daniel Andrews because they don’t meet Labor’s green ideological agenda.

“The closure of the M5 (production line) has enormous economic impact on the Latrobe Valley – it’s not just direct jobs in the firing line, there are hundreds of contractors and temporary staff impacted.

“Australia will likely experience white copy paper shortages as supply must now be imported from foreign countries devoid of the same strict environmental standards.”

In March 2020, the state government struck a commercial in confidence deal stating ‘The government’s 30-year transition plan is about providing much-needed certainty for Australian Paper workers and their families’.

“Yet only a few years later and all Labor talks about is compensation and transition schemes which fail to deliver certainty – the Andrews government has not muttered one word around supporting long term jobs and local manufacturing,” Mr Cameron continued.

“I’m not interested in hearing Labor’s spin on minimising job losses – I’m (interested) in standing up for Latrobe Valley and securing long term manufacturing jobs for workers.

“Talks about compo (compensation) and minimising job losses are just smoke and mirrors.

“Labor’s once again shown its intent on abandoning Latrobe Valley workers and industry.

“The Nationals will continue fighting for Maryvale mill, with my Gippsland Nationals colleagues, Melina Bath and Danny O’Brien, also right behind workers.

“Where there is a will, there is way to secure jobs at the mill, and for the future of Latrobe Valley families, The Nationals will not let this one go quietly.”