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Gov't Could Resuscitate Mataura Mill

Gov't Could Resuscitate Mataura Mill Through Buy-Local

The Government could resuscitate the Mataura paper mill by committing to purchasing copy paper for all Government departments and Crown agencies from the Carter Holt Harvey plant, Green co-leader Rod Donald said today.

It was announced yesterday that the Southland paper mill would close next month, with the loss of 155 jobs. But Mr Donald said today that the job losses were unnecessary and reversible.

"The Government could help keep the mill open if it purchased the bulk of the tens of thousands of reams of paper used by their offices from New Zealand sources. 90% of photocopy paper is imported, so there is a lot of room for local expansion."

"The Industrial Supplies Office in the Ministry of Economic Development is responsible for sourcing Government supplies locally. I will be writing to the Minister today to ask whether he will get the Industrial Supplies Office to swing into action to save the mill.

"Purchasing decisions by Government, and by local councils and businesses, should be made with the long term health of the community in mind. We have got to look beyond the immediate cost of supplies and at the end cost to the community and to local enterprises when cheap imports push them out of business."

A study by the Industry Supplies Office in January found for $1 million of goods imported unnecessarily; 16 jobs disappear and the Government loses $118,000 in tax revenue and pays out $159,000 in welfare.

"Carter Holt Harvey have said that the mill has made a loss over the last four years because of fierce import competition, and that is what lead to the mill's closure. These job losses are just another example of the downside of globalisation," said Mr Donald.

Mr Donald said Mr Anderton should put retaining jobs before creating new ones, because there was already a serious amount of capital invested in the mill and trained workers living in the area.

"I support the Ministry of Economic Development's efforts to create new jobs, but lets save existing ones first. The "job machine" won't go anywhere unless the goods produced sell on the local market. As the major purchaser in the country, the Government has to put its purchasing power behind local industry."

"I'm also concerned recycling in the South Island will suffer if the mill closes because Mataura is the main purchaser of waste paper."

Rod Donald MP: 03 366 3292 or 025 507 183 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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