BENDIGO native and former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Ben Hubbard has been appointed as the new chair of VicForests as the department prepares to phase out native timber production by 2030.
Mr Hubbard will replace outgoing chair Chris Lovell from May 31 as the state government continues as the state government continues to implement the Victorian Forestry Plan, concentrating on contracting, harvesting and regeneration.
As the former chief executive of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, Mr Hubbard undertook the previous government's review of long-term bushfire recovery in 2014.
He is the current National Chair of the YMCA and is a member of the Victorian Council of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Agriculture minister and state member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas said Mr Hubbard was up to the job.
"Ben Hubbard has extensive senior leadership experience, which will support the transition of VicForests and its operations to deliver the Victorian Forestry Plan," she said.
"We thank the outgoing Chair of VicForests Chris Lovell for his many years of hard work and for leading the organisation through the first phase of the Victorian Forestry Plan."
The forestry plan aims to adequately support the transition away from native timber harvesting towards a future based on plantation supply.
Since the 1980s the amount of native timber available for harvest has more than halved and is increasingly vulnerable due to the impact of bushfires and environmental protections.
However, head of the Victorian Nationals and deputy opposition leader Peter Walsh said Mr Hubbard's appointment was a "sneaky move".
"The Andrews Government has no shame in rewarding its Labor mates with big responsibility or big salaries in the Victorian public sector to implement Daniel Andrews' radical political agenda," Mr Walsh said.
"Victoria's native timber industry supports tens of thousands of Victorians to put food on the table, pay the bills and send the kids to school but under Labor this industry is being axed for nothing more than political point-scoring.
"Quietly slipping this out on the eve of a Federal Election tells us Labor knows Victorians will question the legitimacy of this appointment.
The state election is set to be held in November.
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