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Arnold terminates anti-NZ forestry bill

29 October 2004

Arnold terminates anti-NZ forestry bill

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made Forestry Minister Jim Sutton's day by vetoing a bill that would have discriminated against New Zealand timber products.

Mr Sutton told a public meeting in Palmerston North tonight that he had written to Governor Schwarzenegger to thank him for his decision.

"The proposed forestry legislation would have required any Californian state agency which was contracting for, or acquiring, lumber or other wood products to give preferential treatment to wood products harvested by environmentally sustainable practices from within California.

"California is a significant market for New Zealand timber, particularly with home development DIY chains. On its own, it's one of the larger economies in the world."

Mr Sutton said officials had made strong representations to the California State Legislature and to Governor Schwarzenegger that this bill would exclude New Zealand timber, despite our sustainable forestry practices.

He said that Governor Schwarzenegger wrote to the California State Assembly to veto the bill, saying the bill would take the state in the opposite direction of the general trend for free and open trade in a global economy.

"Rather, Governor Schwarzenegger encouraged all Californians to buy voluntarily Californian-grown products, when all other specifications are equal. This is the appropriate way to do things, so that consumers have the choice."

Mr Sutton told the Palmerston North meeting that the livelihoods of all of us in New Zealand, rural and urban, depended on being able to sell our products in the markets of other nations.

"More than 80 per cent of the meat, dairy products, wool, and other products from our land-based industry are exported. So having access to overseas markets is vital to us. That access isn't a right. It's a privilege and we have to work constantly to maintain it, let alone enhance it."

ENDS


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