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O'Connor undermines Clark on beech forest contract

West Coast Labour MP Damien O'Connor is undermining his own leader Helen Clark over beech logging contracts, the Green Party says.

Yesterday Helen Clark claimed Labour was surprised to learn that eight-year contracts had been signed for milling logs prior to Labour announcing its indigenous forest policy - that includes ending West Coast beech milling - on September 10. However, on 31 August, 10 days before Labour's policy announcement, Mr O'Connor was reported in the Grey Star urging that good long-term contracts for beech milling be put in place as soon as possible.

On 25 August, Mr O'Connor, also in the Grey Star, stated that "a Labour government would not necessarily halt sustainable logging of West Coast native beech forests".

This was in response to Timberlands chief executive David Hilliard claiming that a change of government later this year could squash its beech logging plans.

"I don't think so," Mr O'Connor said in the West Coast newspaper.

"O'Connor's been urging Timberlands to lock in long-term beech logging contracts from the day National gave the scheme the go-ahead," said Green MP Rod Donald.

"He has clearly done everything in his power to undermine his leader's stand on saving some of New Zealand's most precious lowland forest."

The Green Party urges Labour to cancel these beech contracts and also the rimu contracts which were pushed through prior to Labour's policy announcement.

"Just because Helen Clark admitted on Morning Report this morning that Labour knew about the rimu contracts before their policy announcement doesn't make them any more tolerable.

"In the meantime Clark should call O'Connor to account or admit that Labour has two forest policies - one for West Coasters and one for Green voters throughout the rest of the country."


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