Heyfield Mill Crisis
Above: Over half the population of Heyfield packed out its Memorial Hall on Wednesday night Feb 2, 2017 to discuss the situation at the Australian Sustainable Hardwood mill and the impact it would have on its employees as well as the wider community*.
A message from Graeme Turner, president Gippsland Woodcraft Group, Nambrok, Victoria
Our club has a number of sponsors but one of the main ones is Australian Sustainable Hardwood (ASH) at Heyfield. Over the years the mill has donated significant amounts of timber to our group to build workbenches and carry out various paid tasks to raise funds.
We have done tours of the mill and the efficiency and management is world class. It is the largest privately owned mill in Australia and exports to thirteen countries. It employs around 250 employees directly and downstream creates another 7,000.
ASH currently process 150,000m3 per year of plantation and regrowth timber. The mill currently exports to around 13 countries and supplies Bunnings and many other outlets in Australia. The mill purchases logs from VicForests and which receives $20 million annually from the mill.
VicForest has now told the mill it wants to reduce its supply to 80,000 cu metres a year which the mill says will make its operation unviable. Meetings at the mill have informed staff that if no solution is found, the mill would need to commence laying staff off from around mid year leading to a total closure when stockpiles drying are processed. If this does happen they will seek government funding to make changes to the mill so they can mill smaller logs to make up some of the shortfall.
Future timber supplies would need to come from overseas which could lead to increases in timber costs and there is no guarantee the timber would come from environmentally controlled locations as is the case now. Heyfield is a small town and we feel the loss of the mill would be devastating.
The mill has set up a Facebook page asking for people to send in their photos as a show of support. They hope to reach a target of 200,000 pictures.
* Around 1000 people from a town with a population of 1800 attended the meeting on Feb 1. You can read what ASH manager Vince Hurley had to say at the meeting at this download link Heyfield-Community-Meeting-final-talk.pdf (124kb).
If you would like to show your support go to this link www.facebook.com/savethetimberindustry
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read a story from The Gippsland Times here www.gippslandtimes.com.au