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Forestry has a future under Labour Progressive

17 March 2005

Forestry has a high value future under Labour Progressive

Forestry is becoming a high skill, high value industry under the Labour Progressive Government, unlike the decline and neglect suffered under National, says Jim Anderton, Minister of Forestry in response to scaremongering by National MP Brian Connell.

"Brian Connell needs a few lessons in history. Firstly, the sum total of National's support for forestry, when they had the chance to do something for the industry, was to shut down the Ministry of Foresty. That's how much National cared about forestry when it was in government.

"Secondly, Connell tries to confuse people with talk of deforestation and land use change taxes. However, the only person to have promoted such taxes is Brian Connell. They are a figment of Connell's imagination and quite simply do not exist. Connell should stop his scaremongering.

"There is now more engagement between government and the forestry industry than ever before, and more is being done to assist them than ever before. I expect some very positive outcomes from this. It is true that the industry does face some big challenges with the high dollar and export costs. However, the best solution to these problems is to add value by processing our wood in New Zealand rather than exporting raw logs.

"The good news is that between 2003 and 2004 the level of wood processing increased across the board from sawn timber, wood pulp, and paper to panel and other high value products. Raw logs and wood chip exports dropped.

"Today I am meeting with Tignum, a Danish furniture manufacturer that thinks New Zealand timber is a high value product, suitable for their top quality furniture range. This is the second Danish Furniture company to use New Zealand wood. Zenia House has started using New Zealand pine several years ago after I worked with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to promote the benefits of our wood products to them.

"Far from being slow to work with the forestry industry, I have been working hard, both before and since I was appointed Minister of Forestry, on ways to lift the value of our timber products.

For example, as Minister of Economic Development I set up the Wood Processing Strategy that achieved the following: much needed regional roading networks funded by government agencies at 100 per cent in underdeveloped regions; the RADI centre, a centre of excellence for wood processing training and education; improved co-ordination and delivery of industry training; the wood quality initiative, a joint venture research and development programme for wood products; the draft New Zealand Forestry Standard, which facilitates internationally recognized third party certification for sustainability; a programme of market access development, which has resulted in, for example, in New Zealand radiata pine being included in the Chinese Building Code; and an increasing awareness in the forest industry of the many areas where the industry can work together to achieve better outcomes for all participants.

"If Brian Connell thinks that this is being slow or silent - then it's about time he had his hearing tested, and I suggest he does so soon because there are more positive developments coming that he should hear about," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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