Sarah Wotherspoon and Ellen Whinnett
Heraldsun, November 15, 2006
Victorian timber workers are concerned preference deals between the major parties and the Greens will threaten their livelihood in exchange for votes in the state election. Forest industry groups yesterday called on both Labor and the Liberals to reveal any preference deals done with the Greens in the Lower House.
Victorian Forestry Industries Association CEO Tricia Caswell said any deals between the major parties and the Greens would spell the end for timber towns in East Gippsland. "We are calling all political parties to draw a line in the sand. No more cuts to resource, no more buy-outs of the industry, towns and jobs," she said.
The 2002 Our Forests Our Future report committed 567,800 cubic metres of forest for the timber industry.
Victorian Timber Communities national co-ordinator Kersten Gentle called on Labor to release its forests policy and reveal any preference deals. "We are concerned Labor has not yet released their forests policy and are yet to commit to standing by the sustainable timber industry," she said. "We are just sick and tired of back room deals that put our families and our livelihood at risk."
The major preference deals for the Lower House are currently at a stand-still with Labor, Liberals and the Greens yet to finalise their deals. Labor prefers the Greens in the Upper House. However, a deal seems likely that would see the Liberals preference the Greens ahead of Labor in four inner-city seats where the Greens stand a strong chance of beating the Labor MPs.
In return, the Greens look likely to agree not to preference against the Liberals in nine suburban and regional seats where they have not yet done deals with Labor. The Greens have agreed to send preferences to Labor in 22 marginal seats, in return for preferences in the Upper House.
And Labor is yet to decide whether it will preference the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in seven Lower House seats held by the Nationals. The move could kill off the Nationals but seems unlikely as Labor has a preference for the Nationals ahead of the Liberals in the Upper House."