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Opinion: Labour’s Harvest of West Coast

The Labour-Alliance Coalition Government are being urged by West Coaster's to come clean over the inconsistencies in their policies. John Howard writes.

The new Coalition Cabinet was sworn in on Friday 10 December 1999 and, within 24 hours, ordered SOE Timberlands to change its statement of corporate intent. This effectively stopped a resource consent hearing over beech logging from proceeding.

But West Coasters have been comparing Labour and Alliance pre-election policies over the harvest of indigenous timber.

Coaster's are now questioning how different policies, affecting such an important decision, could be properly discussed and acted upon by the newly sworn-in coalition cabinet within 24 hours. Particularly when all the scientific evidence had not been heard at a proper legal hearing.

An Alliance voter who did not want to be named said, " The coalition government decision made within 24 hours of being sworn in could not have been properly done. I feel very let-down by the Alliance."

Labour's policy said it would stop the beech "trials" along with the scheme proposed by Timberlands but only after certain steps are taken. West Coaster's believe those steps were not taken and they were excluded from any decisions.

Labour also says its, "goals will be developed with the widest possible consultation," and that it "strongly supports the Resource Management Act because it provides an integrated, participatory and transparent approach to planning for sustainable management."

On the other hand, the Alliance pre-election policy also supports the RMA but adds that it would only, "phase out (native logging) by way of a transition programme developed in association with local government and the West Coast communities."

Many West Coaster's, some who were Alliance voters, believe they had an absolute right to be consulted and that the resource consent hearing should have been allowed to proceed. How did the Alliance change direction so fast, they ask?

Journalist's, too, have fallen back into First Past the Post election mode. Many seem to have taken the statements of Labour or Alliance cabinet ministers at face value when, it seems, they may not have been properly discussed and considered by the coalition government cabinet.

And that's what MMP is all about - properly informed, focused and considered decision-making and policies - from both sides of the coalition.


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