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Gov't sets "dangerous" precedent with rimu call

15 May 2000 Government logging decision sets dangerous precedent The Green Party described the government's announcement of two more years' rimu logging as a dangerous precedent that it will back off its environmental policies under pressure.

"This is very different from its staunchness under pressure on ACC and ERB reform," said Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The Green Party this afternoon released the paper it had put to Cabinet showing that there was no impediment, legal or moral, to ending the Orikaka logging next month and the rest at the end of August.

"The furniture industry has argued job losses but has produced no evidence that these are real," said Ms Fitzsimons. "In contrast, the conservation values of the forests are well proven. We are disappointed that the Government chose to listen to speculation rather than fact.

"There appears to be no argument about timber supplies as Pete Hodgson said in the House last week that alternative timbers for the furniture industry 'collectively are in more than adequate supply'.

Ms Fitzsimons said there was no doubt that the presence of the Greens in Parliament had affected the balance of arguments and helped counter the influence of senior ministers like Jim Anderton and Michael Cullen, who had been arguing for the contracts to run their full course. However this decision will see 40,000m3 of native timber logged under this government. "Labour and the Alliance have missed an opportunity to make their mark on history as the government that finally ended the unsustainable logging of publicly owned native forest," she said.

"Instead the logging of Orikaka will continue until the forest is largely trashed." Timberlands own surveys indicate the value of Orikaka Forest for wildlife, with 26 native bird species recorded including threatened species such as great spotted kiwi, falcon, weka, kaka and kakariki. The consent documents say "localised populations of great spotted kiwi and kaka are regarded to have national significance due to their relatively high densities." "We feel the $120 million compensation package was a very generous offer, and justified only if the rimu logging was to end. The public of New Zealand voted for the parties that promised an end to native logging and given the u-turn by Jim Anderton and Michael Cullen, the Greens are the only party to have stuck to the letter of their pre-election commitments." Ms Fitzsimons said it was on issues like this that the public could see the clear need for a stronger Green presence in Parliament.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: 07 868 6641, 07 868 6511, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133

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