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Lee’s Inability to Answer Questions is Farcical

The Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee’s inability or unwillingness to respond to Parliamentary letters and formal written questions has become farcical, ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

“On the 16th November 2000 I wrote to her highlighting the massive wastage of valuable native timber on DOC land in South Westland, resulting from a severe wind blow the previous August.

“The Westland District Council recovered some 114 cubic metres of merchantable timber on the narrow road reserve. The value of this recovered timber was $40,000 whereas the surrounding DOC land has been calculated to contain over $1 million of windblown logs.

“My letter challenged the existing policy which precludes salvage of natural resources from DOC land and asked what consideration the Minister was prepared to give to amend the policy.

“My letter was acknowledged on the 1st December advising that I would hear from the Minister when she had the opportunity to consider the correspondence.

“I wrote again on the 13th December asking when I might expect a reply.

“Numerous phone calls and emails to Sandra Lee’s office followed, all seeking a reply to my letter of the 16th November.

“On the 22nd March 2001 I lodged a written Parliamentary question to the Minister of Conservation asking when she might respond to my letter of the 16th November and subsequent reminders.

“Parliamentary Standing Orders require written Parliamentary questions to be responded to within five sitting days. The response to my question was due on 30th March but Sandra Lee failed to comply with this requirement.

“The matter was raised on the floor of Parliament and the following day I received a reply which stated, ‘As the Member has been advised the issues raised have been under investigation and I hope shortly to be in a position to reply in full.’

“As a member of Parliament I don’t expect to receive any additional preference over the general public at large, but I am appalled to think that enquiries to a Ministerial office are handled in such an incompetent fashion.


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