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West Coast Development Package

Labour
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Labour recently announced its indigenous forests policy which will see an end to logging of indigenous forests on Crown owned land with significant conservation values.

The most significant direct economic effect of this policy will be felt on the West Coast. The National Government had given approval for the ongoing logging of indigenous forest on the Coast, and many people were placing their hopes on this activity to generate jobs in the region.

"Labour believes it is important that where a decision is made to stop an economic activity, effort is made to ameliorate the impact of this decision on communities. It is also incumbent on Labour in government to work with the West Coast communities to establish or develop alternative economic activity which will be able to provide sustainable jobs to the local communities," Labour deputy leader Michael Cullen said.

This week Dr Cullen travelled to the West Coast to discuss with local interests what measures might best support the Coast in developing sustainable jobs. Those meetings were inconclusive as local representatives were not ready to discuss the detail of new proposals.

"Labour is therefore proposing that a package of measures be put together which will provide the Coast both with a secure asset which can be managed in their own interests and an ongoing income stream. This will allow the Coast to be free from ongoing intervention from central government."

The package would involve

¨ Establishing a West Coast Economic Development Trust, owned and managed by West Coast representatives.
¨ Transferring to that trust the management of all land and assets currently managed by Timberlands West Coast which are not transferred to DOC
¨ Transferring to the trust the revenue gained from resource taxes raised from the region.
¨ Providing assistance with the costs of upgrading sewerage systems in Greymouth and Westport.
¨ Negotiating an appropriate payment in recognition of the amount of Crown owned land in the region not available for rating purposes

"Labour in government will be prepared to build on this base following further discussion with West Coast local authorities," Dr Cullen said.

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