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Wilson Undermines Billion Dollar Industry

Wilson Undermines Billion Dollar Industry

Despite industry concerns, the Government is playing their Treaty card again in settling a claim with Ngati Awa before access rights have been determined, according to National Party Forestry Spokesman, Brian Connell.

"It is irrelevant," said Mr Connell, "that the interested parties have known about access difficulties since 1995. The Central North Island Forest Partnership was not in receivership then and we weren't trying to woo foreign investment to protect a vital New Zealand industry."

"We are destroying investor confidence in an industry which is a major export earner and employer. I believe it is incumbent on the Government to have structured a deal that set reasonable caps on roading charges for access, so that people had certainty with regard to the operation of their businesses.

"The Government is setting a dangerous precedent with regard to future settlement transactions in Kaingaroa. In doing so it is exposing a multi-billion dollar industry to potential exploitation.

"I don't accept Ngati Awa's assurances that they will be fair and reasonable in dealing with those parties who require access. I don't intend Ngati Awa any disrespect, but if Ngati Awa were "Business X", this would not be an issue - it simply wouldn't happen. No one would do business on the basis that they couldn't get reasonable access to their property.

"If the Government was colour-blind, the deal would be assessed on its merits, but instead it is asserting the rights of Ngati Awa at the expense of others. This does not play to New Zealanders sense of fair play.

"No Government should be signing a document containing clauses which would be unacceptable in any other commercial contract."

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