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National abandons Rakaia MP

National abandons Rakaia MP

The National Party has abandoned Rakaia MP Brian Connell’s forestry policy, and the forestry spokesperson admits he is ‘out of the loop’ on the changes.

“Rakaia can do better than a struggling MP who has lost the confidence of his own colleagues,” says Labour candidate for Rakaia Tony Milne.

Mr Connell today contradicted National’s environment spokesperson Nick Smith on whether his forestry policy would result in more native trees being cut down, but was quoted as saying his colleagues were now reviewing his policy. He then went on to say that he “out of the loop on where the discussion was at.”

“Quite clearly, his colleagues are taking the sensible route of not relying on him,” Mr Milne said.

Mr Connell is also now contradicting what he told the media earlier in the day. Earlier today he told the media that the policy of logging native forest on publicly owned conservation land had been approved by the National Party caucus and that he had been promoting it publicly for some time. However, he later released a statement saying the proposal to start logging on public conservation land was merely an early draft that he had circulated to industry and had not been launched formally. He added that it was not in the final policy.

“Mr Connell’s various statements don’t all stack up. Rakaia voters deserve an explanation of why he has been going around the country promoting a policy he now claims doesn’t exist. What seems more likely is that his colleagues have realised the policy in politically unpalatable and that their forestry spokesperson is unreliable. He’s been hung out to dry,” Mr Milne said.


Mr Connell has a track record of inappropriate statements:

• July 2005, Sunday Star Times reports that asked in an interview whether he was ``a cat or a dog person'', Mr Connell responded by saying he hated cats so much that he once threw one across a room and into a fireplace. Noticing the startled looks this anecdote produced, he added that the fire was not lit.

• April 2005, Mr Connell forced to explain comments promoting a flat tax rate, before National had formulated and released its tax policy.

Mr Connell’s various statements on native logging on public land:

Stuff 25/08/2005

But the party's forestry spokesman Brian Connell said the forestry policy would lift the number of native trees felled in New Zealand and had been approved by National's caucus.

He said he had been promoting it publicly for some time, but now there was "talk" of it going back to caucus for changes.

A document issued earlier this month by Mr Connell says National would: "Allow selective sustainable harvesting of native beech forests from privately owned forests and will review similar production from carefully selected areas of crown-owned forests including the South Island's West Coast".

The document titled Working with the Forest Industry had been removed from Mr Connell's electorate website this morning.

But Mr Connell said he stood by the policy…

Mr Connell said he was aware there was a desire now on the part of some National MPs "to go back...and talk about it again", but he was out of the loop on where the discussion was at.

NZ Herald 25/08/2005

National Party forestry spokesman Brian Connell said national parks and reserves would not be touched but the total ban was a "waste of a perfectly good resource."

A National-led government would look at sustainable logging on "a case-by-case basis". Timberlands is currently prevented from cutting native timber but Mr Connell said a National-led government would negotiate a potentially "substantial sustainable management regime".

Media release by Brian Connell 25/08/2005

National will not allow logging of Crown owned indigenous forests," National Party Forestry spokesman Brian Connell clarified today.

"A review of allowing carefully selected areas of Crown owned West Coast forests was included in an early draft of the policy that I circulated to the industry. The policy was not formally launched, was never on National's website and nor was it approved by the National Board.

"Chris Carter has been quite mischievous in saying the review would result in 1.5 million hectares of public forest being logged. This was never contemplated. To provide absolute clarity, the review [to allow logging] is not in the final policy.

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