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09 Jun, 2011 12:00 AM
A potential opportunity to bring the VicForest head office, and its 80 jobs, to the Valley has been pounced on by Latrobe City Council. 

The State Government and VicForest may pull out of its plans to move the head office to the Yarra Valley, after the council boycotted locally-made Reflex paper.

Concerns have been raised over the Maryvale Mill using material from native forests which environmental groups say is pushing the leadbeater’s possum towards extinction.

The Yarra Ranges Council moved a resolution at a recent Municipal Association of Victoria State Council meeting for all local councils to stop using the paper.

Latrobe Valley played a key role in defeating the proposal.

Councillor Bruce Lougheed said when he realised the proposal was gathering support “as a result of the amount of disinformation that was circulating” he tried to stop it.

“There was little understanding of the steady environmental progress that has been taking place in the Latrobe Valley paper industry over the past decade or so. Whether it is the increasing use of plantation timber or environmentally cleaner production processes,” Cr Lougheed said.

“Nor was there any acknowledgement of the key role the Maryvale plant plays in local employment and the local economy.”

Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said he had written to the Yarra Ranges Shire to advise them that he did “not see the sense in continuing negotiations to move VicForests’ corporate support office from Melbourne to Yarra Glen or Healesville” and that is was “off the table while they are opposed to the product that VicForests sustainability harvests”.

Cr Lougheed made a motion that the mayor write to the Victorian Government to offer to facilitate the head office.

He said Latrobe Valley was the ideal location because of the importance of the paper industry to the region.

“We can only try,” Cr Lougheed said

Cr Sharon Gibson said if it meant jobs for the community she would be happy to support the proposal.

“If the carbon tax goes through we may need all the jobs we can get,” she said.

When asked if he would consider Latrobe City’s proposal Mr Walsh said he “was open to relocating VicForests”.

“However we will only do so if it is in the best interests of VicForests and the state’s timber industry,” he said.