I couldn't complain about that speech from the member for Lyons. I just wish he were a Victorian politician rather than a Tasmanian politician.
Regional Australia, from our point of view, has been dealt a terrible blow by what's happened in Victoria, and I come from that place too. I have lived regional forestry agreements through the Hawke-Keating government and every government since, including the Howard government, when we spent political blood and millions of dollars to get those regional forest agreements up for the states. We achieved great things on behalf of our communities to give a long-term, sustainable future for people like those the member for Lyons has just talked about.
I acknowledge the member for Gippsland for bringing this very important motion before the chair to say: have a look at what they've done in Victoria. I was at a rally while the member for Gippsland was away; I took his place at that rally to say that we as a federal parliament actually care what's going on. I didn't restrict that to Liberals and Nationals, I'd like to say to the member for Lyons, because I know there are members of the Labor Party who care as well. I strongly supported the CFMEU Forestry Division, who worked out of my office to save the paper industry when it was in my electorate. The CFMEU Forestry Division worked out of my office, a Liberal Party member's office, to gain what we did in those times. These were very important issues, because this industry was worth more than $1.42 billion to Victoria alone, and it affects thousands of jobs—not just the jobs on the line in the forest but jobs that go all the way out, right across our community, and I mean thousands of jobs.
It is so true that people making decisions in Melbourne, for instance, in those Green seats, do not have any idea of not only what we went through before but how we argued for the sustainability of this industry and the fact that you can regrow these forests and that they are broadly beneficial to the management of the forests. As the member for Gippsland said, it is now dangerous to live around a forest that is not managed and doesn't have any cultural burning. So you may say, 'Right, we're saving our forests from these terrible loggers,' and then, in turn, you have wildfire go through, which just destroys the lot. It kills them, so the return of the forest after that takes quite a while.
This is a real kick in the guts for my small communities, and it's immoral for this reason. We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with the greatest opportunity for forest management and to lead the way internationally—as Tasmania is doing, as the member for Lyons pointed out. It's immoral because we are now going to import far more timber than we otherwise would to fulfil the needs that are here. The member for Gippsland talked about monoculture trees, particularly blue gums, that are said to replace. They may replace the fibre for the paper industry, but they will not replace the structural timber, because the make-up of the blue gum does not handle the length of timber you need before you have a knot to be able to give you structural strength without laminating. You have to laminate every bit of pith to get your outcome. So these are real issues that affect real people. I can only hope that a miracle comes, and the miracle would be that the Andrews government falls for some reason and a sensible government comes in and reverses this decision very quickly. I'm here to plead for real people who are making great contributions and doing real jobs in country Victoria. Most of them live in the seat of Gippsland. That wealth that came out of that for the broader general public was more than just some timber or a tree that you see on the back of a truck going past your house every now and again. These are very important issues, and we bring them to the attention of the Australian people.