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Timber Bill must support local business and community

Timber Bill must support local business and community

It is disappointing but not surprising the Government is refusing to amend urgent legislation to ensure West Coast people and businesses benefit from windfall timber, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor says.

“Conservation Minister Nick Smith yesterday told Parliament he won’t amend the West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill to give the region much needed job opportunities.

“The Minister prefers to play politics with the West Coast rather than give genuine support to our communities.

“Under the Government’s plan, companies from outside the region would extract, process and sell these trees, and provide very little direct benefit to the West Coast. West Coasters have had a guts full of losing control over their local resources.

“If the West Coast gets preferential access and the major benefits, then I support the extraction of windblown trees.

“The West Coast lost almost 1000 well-paid jobs when the National Government ran Solid Energy into the ground by forcing it to increase debt and pay out dividends at a time when coal prices were unsustainably high. This almost crippled the company and the West Coast community along with it.

“Our region can do without any further political posturing by National. We want real opportunities for the West Coast if this Bill is to pass into law,” Damien O’Connor says.

ends

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