VicForests operations

I also rise to speak on the inquiry into VicForests operations. I would like to thank the staff for all the work they did, particularly Lilian Topic. One of the things that is very clear in relation to this is that there are a lot of people involved in this industry: 21 000 directly involved and indirectly 40 000 to 50 000 people, which obviously involves their families and their communities as well. This report has provided us with seven recommendations in terms of some of the things that we have come up with that might assist in this debate.

There is no doubt that the critical element to this is getting the balance right. We need to get the balance right in protecting the endangered species involved. The timber workers and their families are the first endangered species. The second one is obviously the Leadbeater's possum, and there are other animals and little creatures out there as well that are impacted. What we need to do is get the balance right because, as we know, the products that are used by VicForests from the native timber industry are materials that we all use in our very own lives in terms of furniture, flooring, other building materials and paper.

This industry is heavily regulated. There are eight commonwealth laws, there are 40 Victorian laws and there are 15 regulations and 12 policies which VicForests is legally bound to. We have got the balance pretty right; it is heavily regulated in Victoria. We need to make sure that we continue to find a path forward which supports the people, the jobs and the communities as well as the protection of the Leadbeater's possum, which is important also. There is a balance going forward, and we need to find that balance.

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