Thursday, 9 February 2023
Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:33): (29) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Agriculture, and I am pleased that she is at the table to listen to this. I am sure she will listen with a sympathetic ear, because it is actually a great predicament that they are in through an adverse effect – and this relates to the hardwood log supplies for woodchopping. Practised for over 140 years and actually instigated – I think the argument is – in Tasmania 140 years ago, the sport of woodchopping is part of our history and our heritage. Our Victorian athletes have been both international and national champions on a number of fronts and over a number of decades, but this fantastic event, which is often at our many agricultural shows and specialty events, is under grave threat. In fact they are having to cancel, and we see that unfortunately it may be cancelled at the Melbourne Royal Show in September.
There has been an agreement, and I have had discussions with the president of the Victorian Axemen’s Council – his name is Brad Meyer, and a very amazing person he was during the fires in helping fight the fires with their machinery. But Brad is really concerned that there is an agreement that was signed in 2006 with the Victorian government to sponsor, through VicForests, the cost of the hardwood logs for woodchopping events, and then the industry or the various organisations pick up the haulage at harvest, so the cost is split.
Now, this agreement is negotiated every couple of years, and the current agreement runs until 2024. However, court injunctions are having an adverse effect on this heritage sport, and it is really affecting the mental health of many people in our rural and regional towns.
As I said, speaking with Brad Meyer – I have received correspondence, and the minister may have also received similar correspondence – 100 woodchopping events are at risk this year if they cannot source the hardwood. He writes:
We urgently seek your assistance in supporting the continuation of this commitment to our Sport and the retention of this part of our Heritage.
So the action I seek is for you to honour the current agreement and facilitate VicForests to supply the hardwood logs for competition, noting as Brad says, it is actually only a minute amount in the scale of things – only 2000 cubic metres – that is required annually. Thanks, Minister, for your consideration.