West Coast Accord Should Be Honoured
Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters MP, today reaffirmed New Zealand First’s commitment to the sustainable management of the West Coast’s indigenous forest resource.
“ The commitments made in the 1986 West Coast Accord should be honoured.
“ By breaking their commitments to the continuation of that programme, Labour and the Alliance have shown how far they are from understanding the fundamental problem facing the West Coast—the lack of jobs.
“ I went into Timberlands forests long before this became an election issue. No other party leader has done so even now. I was impressed by how well the resource was being managed. To shut down such an internationally respected initiative is little short of economic treason against New Zealanders.
“ 87% of the West Coast land area is non-rateable because it is tied up in the Conservation estate or Crown leases. Yet the West Coast people have to bear the costs of maintaining the physical infrastructure that makes the Coast viable.
“ I reiterate our pledge that a reasonable percentage of that exempted rate take will be returned to the Coast as a regional development grant.
“ It is unacceptable to New Zealand First that West Coasters are being forced to become State beneficiaries because the State has taken control of their resources without compensation for the State’s use of their resources.
“ The West Coast Accord was signed in 1986 by the then Labour Government of which Mr Anderton was a member. It remains a legally and morally binding contract which Mr Anderton wants to renege on in order to shore up the Alliance’s wilting Green vote.
“ New Zealand First supports the Accord. We applaud the Mayors and Councils of the Coast together with the Coast Action Network for their commitment to the people,” concluded Mr Peters.