here has been ongoing discussion regarding VicForests' finances. This is understandable and we believe it’s healthy to have an appropriate level of scrutiny around an organisation such as ours.
In 2013, the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) undertook a comprehensive audit, looking at VicForests’ operations and the management of native forest timber resources in Victoria.
This audit focussed heavily on VicForests’ finances and the socio-economic contribution the native timber industry makes in Victoria.
Some of the comments found in the Auditor General’s report address a number of claims which continue to be made about us and our industry:
- VicForests does not receive any government subsidies.
- Its profitability has been affected in particular by the 2006–07 and 2009 fires. VicForests paid dividends totalling $5.1 million in 2005–06 and 2006–07, and is proposing to pay $250 000 in 2013–14.
- Although the government reimburses VicForests for the additional costs incurred by its fire salvage efforts – totalling $24.6 million between 2007 and 2011 – the fires led to the loss of future timber sale value – estimated as being worth $600 million in 2009.
The organisation has also returned a profit of $12.4 million over the life of the business. Regardless of this, VicForests is not about maximising short term commercial profits. Our role is to act in a sustainable and commercially prudent manner while ensuring long-term economic returns to the State.
In performing this role, VicForests has generated more than $1 billion in revenue, almost all of which has been injected back into regional communities over the last nine and a half years. This activity creates employment and stimulates billions of dollars worth of downstream timber processing – something that can’t be forgotten.
Our staff and contractors are part of this community and many others like it across eastern Victoria. In the words of the Auditor General:
- The native forest timber industry is important to many regional communities, providing direct and indirect employment.
- It also generates opportunities for business and service providers, as well as demand for social infrastructure such as schools and medical facilities.
The Victorian forestry industry is one of the most vibrant in Australia and we’re committed to continuing to supply highly valued, unique timber – a renewable, recyclable and sustainable material used by all of us each and everyday.