Gippsland paper and timber workers have welcomed Senator Ricky Muir’s commitment to support the struggling industry with the signing of the “pulp and paper workers” pledge’ during his visit to their workplace on Friday.
The paper and timber industry in Gippsland has been struggling to fend off fierce competition from imported cheap and dumped wood and paper products, with half of all pulp and paper jobs nationally disappearing during the last decade.
”We explained to Senator Muir that 16 of the 22 biggest Federal Government Departments and Agencies use imported paper instead of Australian-made,” said Anthony Pavey, CFMEU Pulp and Paper Workers’ District, Maryvale Secretary.
“So it was fantastic that Senator Muir signed our ‘pulp and paper workers’ pledge’, committing his office to use Australian-made paper and to use his influence in Parliament to support urgently needed reforms like stronger anti-dumping laws. We’re also thrilled he signed our petition calling on Barnaby Joyce to ensure the government uses Australian-made paper.”
Mr Joyce himself said he preferred to use Australian-made paper products, even though his Department of Agriculture is using imported products.
The petition follows a similar initiative launched late last year by the Federal member for Gippsland Darren Chester which got over 4,000 signatures from people in the Latrobe Valley but was not supported by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann when he considered it earlier this year.
Workers were also pleased that Senator Muir, a former timber worker, demonstrated his practical knowledge of the industry, which underpins thousands of jobs throughout Gippsland and the country.
“The industry, and especially the paper mill, has had great support from Mr Chester. And now we know that Senator Muir is going to provide another strong voice for the community when he gets back to Canberra, which is really encouraging,” said Anthony Pavey.
The petition can be found and signed online: http://www.ourjobs.org.au