Employees, road and weed concern
WELCOMING new Forestry Plantations Queensland (FPQ) owners yesterday, member for Gympie David Gibson said he has concerns about the $603 million sale to Hancock Queensland Plantations.
Mr Gibson said potentially more than 40,000 hectares of land would be affected in the sale and he wanted to make sure new owners took into consideration the history of FPQ in the Gympie region, understood issues, and managed it properly.
His main concerns were the workers and a possible decline in the standard of Forestry roads.
He said he was still waiting for answers from the State Government.
“In the past I’ve seen a decline in Forestry road standards,” Mr Gibson said.
In some areas, he said, the roads were only being used for fire control management and weren’t being maintained for access.
Mr Gibson said the roads sometimes shifted between Gympie Regional Council and Forestry responsibility.
And he wanted to make sure Hancock made a commitment to maintaining access, not just using the roads as fire breaks.
In the lead up to the sale, Mr Gibson said his office received phone calls from FPQ workers saying they were offered redundancies.
He said he believed the Labor Government was trying to get people out of FPQ, and didn’t believe departmental excuses that the redundancies were nothing to do with the sale and it was just “coincidental timing”.
He now wants a commitment that the workers will be looked after and protected, not just with the three-year job security they were promised, but he wants to see staff employed using their full skills and talents so they didn’t feel the need to leave the community.
Mr Gibson also waiting for answers from the government on declared pests such as Giant Rats Tail Grass (GRTG).
“It’s a big issue in the area, landholders are responsible by law to manage the weed and council enforces that law.”
Mr Gibson said in the past he found there were infestations of GRTG on land owned by FPQ and he wants to make sure Hancock is aware and has a plan.
He said if GRTG wasn’t managed on FPQ land then the weed would spread to adjoining land and those land owners would have to pay to eradicate the weed.