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Research fund needed to add value to NZ forestry

Gordon Copeland

Tuesday, 11th March 2008

Research fund needed to add value to NZ forestry

Independent MP Gordon Copeland, the Kiwi Party's spokesperson on primary industries, today signalled his support for the $700 million research Government funding package announced for the pastoral and food industries.

"That is certainly a step in the right direction," said Mr Copeland, "because it has been clear for years that we need to add value to our agricultural and food industries if we are to maximise their export potential."

"However the New Zealand forest industry also has an enormous contribution to make. To my certain knowledge, that industry has talked about adding value for 24 years, dating all the way back to 1984!"

"However in spite of all of the well intentioned talking and rhetoric, we still see, day after day, week after week, thousands of tonnes of raw logs being exported from New Zealand. That reality is a tragedy for the entire nation."

"Way back in the 1980s we talked excitedly about the 'wall of wood' which would become available from New Zealand's plantation forests in the early years of the 21st century. We envisioned billions of dollars of additional export revenue being generated as those enormous quantities of raw logs were processed into building products, furniture components and the like, prior to export."

"We envisioned massive wood processing plants here in New Zealand, owned by a mixture of New Zealand and overseas investors, taking our forest products up to the value chain, prior to export."

"Sadly that has not happened. Frankly it is time for the talk to stop and constructive, positive action to begin. If a research funding partnership can be put together for the pastoral and food industries, why not for forestry? That is the multi-billion dollar question."

ENDS

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