With the release of the State Government’s draft forestry workforce transition package, Labor have yet again shown that they do not care about small business.

“Although I welcome the Government’s long-awaited support package for forestry workers, it only further highlights the disappointing response forestry businesses have received from Minister Kelly,” said Shadow Minister for Forestry, the Hon Steve Martin MLC.

“The Minister has yet to deliver a meaningful support package to forestry businesses.”

Employees who have been made redundant by the Government’s decision to end the native forestry industry may be eligible for up to $45,000 in compensation and further assistance for relocation and re-training support.

Workers who voluntarily leave the industry before the closure of their employer’s business may be able to access up to $10,000.

“A small forestry business that has created employment and economic stimulation in their community could receive less support than a single worker.

“Business are now facing heavy job losses, a stark shortage of material and a steep increase in operational costs.

“Although the workforce package will support workers, it will only make it harder for businesses to survive until mid-2023.

“It will be difficult for businesses to able survive long enough in these conditions to claim any compensation,” said Mr Martin.

Small businesses in the forestry industry will be unable to access any financial support unless they meet a strict set of criteria and continue operations until mid-2023. Any support will also need to be checked off by the Forestry Minister, Dave Kelly.

“The entire Native Transition Group process has been a sham from the start,” said Mr Martin.

The announcement of the business support package was made online after cancelling an in-person meeting in the South West. No media statement was ever released.

“Meetings have been repeatedly cancelled, lacked any substantial information and have been no more than a smokescreen to justify the Government’s populist decision to end the native forestry industry.

“Minister Kelly tried to sneak this embarrassing support package for business under the radar in the hopes that no-one would notice.

“Small businesses around WA should be very wary of this Labor Government’s treatment of the forestry industry.

“The decision to shut the industry down was made without any consultation, without any warning and without any support for business.

“We don’t know which industry will face the chopping block next.

“The Labor Government have once again proven that they do not care about small business,” said Mr Martin.

“The Alliance are calling on the Government to double the hardwood compensation package to $100 million to provide some much-needed relief to the native forestry industry.”