Barnett welcomes Heyfield timber mill move to Burnie

The timber mill at Heyfield. Picture: Mal Fairclough
The timber mill at Heyfield. Picture: Mal Fairclough

The state government has welcomed news that Gippsland's beleaguered Heyfield timber mill operation might move to North-West Tasmania.

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods announced it would close its mainland mill in September 2018, leaving 260 people jobless.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his government was considering buying the mill, but that was rejected by the company. "The owners will … now explore options of relocating the manufacturing plant to Tasmania," ASH director Clinton Tilley said in a statement.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said it was a "vote of confidence” in the Tasmanian government and its forestry policy. “While ultimately it would be a decision for the Heyfield mill operators, they can rest assured that the Hodgman government would support any potential move to Tasmania.”

But conservationist Bob Brown said the government needed to tell taxpayers whether their money would be involved in the project.

"Reports that Victoria's Andrews government has had its proposal to buy the Heyfield mill turned down and that the owners plan to relocate to Burnie instead more than hint at Tasmanian government involvement. Mr Hodgman should tell Tasmanians what is afoot and how much taxpayers' money is involved.

"Reports indicate a plantation-based plant for Burnie but this comes at a time when the Hodgman government is legislating to open 365,000 hectares of previously protected Tasmanian native forest to logging against the wishes of both environmentalists and the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania. Premier Hodgman should make it clear that not one stick of native forest will be going to the proposed Burnie mill.”