Here is video of me speaking.
Science has found recently that Victoria’s native forests are among the most carbon dense in the world. Our forests produce most of our water, and contribute to the oxygen we breathe.
We appreciate their rich biodiversity and their beauty. In short, they are unique and wonderful. Yet in 2010, we still clearfell and burn them.
Labor has broken their 2006 election promise to “protect the last significant stands of old growth forest available to logging”.
Brown Mountain and other old growth forests were recently logged. The Brumby government is actually in the logging business via their agency VicForests. The Supreme Court found this year the Victorian Government to be in breach of the law for not ensuring threatened species surveys were conducted prior to logging.
Only about one quarter of the paltry 40,000 hectares the Labor government eventually protected this year is actually old growth.
Logging in Victoria's water catchments also continues despite clear scientific evidence it is decreasing water supplies across the state.
It is worth noting that most of our native forests logged, around 80%, ends up as low value woodchips, not timber. Less than 2% is furniture grade.
Despite the ongoing logging of our native forests, jobs have dwindled in this sector. Three decades ago there were around 40 sawmills operating in Gippsland. Today there are only 6 or 7.
Only this week, Bob Humphries from the Cann River saw mill said "The writing is on the wall - we are not going to survive"
Yet the best John Brumby and Minister Jennings can do is to offer to facilitate "peace talks", while the Liberals have committed to continued logging that will destroy our remaining forests.
Labor and the Coalition have both abdicated responsibility to save our forests despite overwhelming community support for this.
Its no surprise then that support is rising for the Greens as we are committed to an immediate logging industry transition out of native forests to plantations. There are enough hardwood and softwood plantations for this immediate transition to occur. This transition is 10 years overdue.
We need action on protecting our remaining native forests, not more broken promises and subterfuge from our governments.
This is the UN International Year of Biodiversity. We the Greens will protect our remaining native forests from logging so that their biodiversity, the carbon they store, the water they produce is safeguarded.
We will promote a vibrant jobs-rich timber industry based on existing hardwood and softwood plantations that are available right now. Our vision is for East Gippsland’s forests to be protected and part of World Heritage area with long term prosperity from nature-based tourism.