The NSW Greens have said jobs in the South East's native forest logging industry are under threat, so have called for a transition to plantations.
"Any politician that says they can guarantee long-term jobs in native forest logging is lying," NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said.
"It's an industry that's in permanent decline.
"Internationally, the market is disappearing for mixed native hardwoods, woodchips and otherwise. Uniform fibre, which only plantations provide, is what the worldwide market wants."
Mr Shoebridge was visiting the Bega Valley on Wednesday, March 13 along with his party's candidate for Bega Will Douglas and NSW Upper House candidate Abigail Boyd to discuss logging, TAFE and the Murrah Flora Reserve.
He said the state government needed to develop a map of marginal pasture land in the South East that could be used for plantations, not high-value agricultural land, and provide long-term investment into plantations as there was more jobs in that industry and it would provide economic growth such as experienced in the Tumbarumba region.
"It does fill you with a sense of hope about the timber industry," he said of the growth in Tumbarumba.
Also, he said if the state government, council and local businesses knew the region's forests would be there indefinitely that would attract business opportunities.
Mr Douglas said the state government needed to "stop dismantling TAFE", as that was where native forest logging workers could be retrained for plantations.
As a school teacher, he said he taught students for whom TAFE was "literally a lifeline".
"When you eliminate jobs, TAFE teachers leave the district so you lost the vibrancy of local communities," he said.
He said the new $7million connected learning centre in Bega - that brought a technology focus to teaching, using augmented reality, simulations and virtual reality - should have been constructed next to the college on Barrack St.
"How do you teach someone to lay bricks, how do you teach someone when to change a nappy if it is taught online?" Mr Douglas said.
"It's a flawed model and has clearly come from someone who is not an educator."
It was Greens policy to retain the Barrack St campus, which is expected to close in 2021, and make sure 100 per cent of public funding on vocational training went to TAFE.
"It will take time to get TAFE back to the quality institution it used to be, because it has been so eroded," Ms Boyd said.
The 12,000ha Murrah Flora Reserve between Tathra and Bermagui was created in 2016 and earlier this year the Greens alleged it was left underfunded by the NSW government and little had been done to preserve its koala population - both denied by the government.
As Member for Bega Andrew Constance has said the option of harvesting the reserve again could be considered in the future, Mr Shoebridge called for it to become part of the Biamanga National Park to grant it permanent protection.
"So it's as safe as you can make it from the Liberal Party," he said.
He also wanted the reserve to be brought under the control of the Yuin people and fund Indigenous Australian rangers to focus on fire management and weed and pest control.
"Why would we not take advantage of and respect the extraordinary cultural knowledge gathered over 60,000 years by the first nations people?" he said.
Journalist at Bega District News.
Journalist at Bega District News.
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