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Ricky Muir calls on Victorian Government to ‘look outside’ Melbourne, as Heyfield braces for sawmill closure

The Victorian Government has been told to ‘look outside’ Melbourne as yet another country town braces for an employment blow.

Hundreds of workers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield in Victoria’s east have been told they could be out of a job by September.

The sawmill processes 150,000 cubic metres of timber and has a contract with state-owned logging company VicForests until June.

ASH has since been offered a short-term contract at half the production, which the mill says isn’t sustainable.

Former Senator Ricky Muir, who used to work at the mill, told 3AW it shaped as another massive hit to employment in Gippsland, which is already struggling on several fronts.

‘We’re (also) losing Hazelwood, which is in excess of 1000 jobs,’ Mr Muir explained.

‘Australian paper is always under threat ? that’s another couple of thousand jobs ? and we’ve got the dairy crisis, as well.

‘The state government really needs to step up their game and start looking outside just that inner-city circle.’

Mr Muir said environmental concerns about the mill were misguided, given 94 per cent of Victorian forests were already protected.

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