Tuesday, 13th August 2019

Ms GARRETT (Eastern Victoria) (13:30): I was delighted to recently take a tour of the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods—or, as it is known, ASH—timber mill, located in Heyfield in East Gippsland. I would like to make a special mention of the managing director, Vince Hurley, and of the Wellington Shire Council, who together provided me and my staff with a very insightful and informative overview of the workings of the mill and followed that with a site tour of the manufacturing division.

The ASH mill is Australian owned and the only domestic manufacturer of finished timber products supplied to Bunnings. Along with this they have a plan to transition out of ash species from 2030 and move towards silvertop, a more sustainable species that is easier to regenerate and is not a food source for our native animals. As well as making leaps in the national manufacturing industry they are also significant contributors to regional employment. They employ over 150 full-time permanent employees, and this is growing fast as they undertake their expansion plans, which are well underway. They look after their workers incredibly well by paying significantly more than the award wage, having great super and offering all employees access to a full-time physiotherapist as well as an employee wellness program.

I am really proud that the Andrews Labor government gets behind local businesses that offer employment to our communities. As we all know, a job is more than just a job; it offers dignity, a source of income and a sense of worth. I am really excited to see the future of this important employer in my electorate