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Government Continues To Renege On Coast

Monday 15th May 2000
Ken Shirley
Media Release -- Economy

ACT today said it came as no surprise that the Government had continued its ‘West Coast demolition job’ with the announcement by Pete Hodgson that the Government will renege on sustainable West Coast Rimu contracts.

ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said the decision by Cabinet today to end the sustainable rimu contracts by March 2002,instead of respecting the sanctity of those contracts due to expire in 2007, would come as no surprise to Coasters who did not trust the Government to honour them.

An international forestry expert, Mr Shirley said the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill being introduced to Parliament today to cancel the 1986 West Coast Accord was an absolute breach of faith with the West Coast. The Bill confirms that no one can negotiate ‘in good faith’ with the Labour/Alliance Government because it had absolutely no respect for sanctity of contract and would break its word to appease extremist lobby groups. He said ACT would be strongly opposing the Bill.

“Pete Hodgson has stood in Wellington today and cost 50 West Coast sawmillers and their families their livelihoods. It’s another disgraceful performance from a Minister whose inability to put reason and fact before emotion has left the region’s entire future hanging in the balance,” said Ken Shirley.

Ken Shirley said he’s concerned that the Government cannot be trusted to hand over the $120 million ‘West Coast welfare payment’ to Coasters as promised.

“My fear is that this Government will tie the money up with so many strings that, at the end of the day, Coasters will be left with nothing. Even if money is made available, what guarantee is there that this Government won’t just suddenly decide to pull the plug on the Coast down the track?

“There is no justification for Helen Clark, Pete Hodgson, Michael Cullen and Jim Anderton breaking these sustainable contracts and putting the West Coast on welfare,” said Ken Shirley. ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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