Thursday, September 20, 2012

Forest turmoil's terrible toll

Will Hodgman MHA at New Norfolk
SUICIDES, broken marriages and separated families were among the human costs of the ongoing turmoil in the forest industry, Central Highlands mayor Deirdre Flint said at New Norfolk on Tuesday night. About 150 people were at the New Norfolk District Football Clubrooms for the latest of Liberal leader Will Hodgman's community forums.

Central Highlands mayor Deirdre Flint said businesses in her municipality had lost $8 million in the forestry downturn and the social impact extended to two suicides, relationship breakdowns and fathers being forced to leave their families behind in the search for work interstate. Community member Kelly Wilton said families had put their lives on hold, in some cases seeing their fathers only once every six weeks. Derwent Valley mayor Martyn Evans said there seemed to be no concern for people in the regions while the protracted negotiations continued in the quest for "peace in the forests".

Mr Hodgman said the Liberals believed there were opportunities for the forest industry rather than shutting it down and he endorsed New Norfolk businessman Ray Williams' call to legislate to prevent protestors disrupting people going about their work.

Mr Hodgman drew attention to the empty chair he had set aside for a government representative. There was criticism of Labor and Green politicians for their absence from the meeting. Michael Polley MHA, Rebecca White MHA and Craig Farrell MLC were named but Rene Hidding MHA singled out New Norfolk-based Greens member Tim Morris MHA for special mention, saying he was probably at home several hundred metres away, watching X Factor on TV.

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