Wellington Shire Council has cautiously welcomed the news that the State Government has signed off on a deal to purchase Australian Sustainable Hardwood (ASH).
The deal will mean job security for many of the workers at the mill, who have been living on tenterhooks and uncertain about their futures.
However Council is concerned about the mill operating at a smaller capacity and what that will mean in the longer term.
“While we are pleased that the mill will remain open for the immediate future, we are still mindful that there will be some redundancies and the mill will be operating at a smaller capacity than before,” Wellington Shire Mayor, Cr Crossley said.
“ASH as it has operated in the past, has contributed a great deal of economic prosperity throughout the whole of Gippsland, and indeed has had flow on to jobs across the state.
“The timber supply has only been secured for the next three years and at a level that is quite below full operating capacity.
“We need to be certain that the timber supply will continue and have the potential to increase, so that Heyfield residents can be ensured that the town’s major employer has a secure future.”
Cr Crossley said Heyfield was a proud community that had a strong history tied to the timber industry.
“Heyfield is a timber town, it’s the town’s identity,” Cr Crossley said.
“Keeping ASH open and operating is such a vital part of maintaining Heyfield’s historic connection to the timber industry, the livelihood and prosperity of its residents and a wide range of business in the Gippsland region.
“Wellington Shire Council looks forward to working further with the Heyfield community to drive economic prosperity into the future.”