21 May, 2011

Council gags on Reflex vow

Anne Wright
Herald Sun,  May 21, 2011

A COUNCIL has been warned to lift its ban on a brand of paper or risk losing 45 new jobs.

The State Government said a proposal to move the VicForests corporate offices into the Yarra Range Council's area would be "off the table", unless it started using Reflex paper.

A letter from Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh to Yarra Ranges Council chief executive Glenn Patterson, seen by the Herald Sun, commended the proposal for the VicForests corporate office to move, which would create 45 jobs.

Mr Walsh then says the proposal will be "off the table" unless the council stopped its Reflex boycott.

The threat originated from the council's signing an environmental pledge to stop using the brand because it is made from native forest, which is against the council's policy.

But Mr Walsh said Reflex was a product of Australian Paper, an "important client" of VicForests, and any council signing the "so-called ethical paper pledge" from the Wilderness Society would miss out on the move of the VicForest jobs.

"In my view, council has been hypocritical in seeking to attract VicForests while actively campaigning against a product that forms part of its core business," he said.

But Yarra Ranges mayor Terry Avery said the council joined the Wilderness Society's pledge to not use Reflex paper, and opted for an Australian product line also manufactured by the Australian Paper.

"We feel strongly that the pledge is an accurate reflection of our commitment to sustainability, protection of the environment, corporate social responsibility and local community needs," Cr Avery said.

He said the council would not back down.

"We are disappointed that Minister Walsh has chosen to establish a direct link between the two unrelated issues," he said.

Opposition resources spokesman John Lenders said the Government was threatening jobs in the local community.


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