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Greens Challenge Labour On Beech Scheme Stance

30 August 1999

Beech contracts may tie hands of future government - Greens

Contracts signed between now and the election for the sale of beech timber from Timberlands' West Coast forests could tie the hands of the next government, says Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Speaking at the politicians' forum at the ECO annual conference in Wellington this weekend, Ms Fitzsimons challenged Labour to give a firm assurance that the controversial beech scheme would be cancelled under a Labour led government.

Labour was not prepared to commit to this policy.

"If Labour waits much longer before sending a clear message, it will cost the New Zealand taxpayer millions of dollars to buy out contracts which we belive are in the process of being signed right now" said Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"Timberlands and the beech sawmills must be warned now that the contracts will not be upheld," she said.

"The National Government was morally wrong to approve such a major project so close to an election. The beech scheme is neither sustainable nor economic, and the Government has virtually admitted that it will provide very few jobs on the Coast."

"Labour has attacked the decision but is not prepared to commit to overturning it. They can't have it both ways."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party will use its influence in the next parliament to stop the logging as soon as is practically possible.

"The New Zealand public have already paid with the loss of so much of their public forest," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "I'm appalled to find they may now have to pay again - this time with dollars - to compensate those who have signed contracts in this tiny window of opportunity."


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