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The Cost of a Rash Promise and Buying Votes

Press Release from Brian Swale, member of sustainable forestry campaign group. Monday, 15 May 2000.

The Cost of a Rash Promise and Buying Votes. Sky high.

Tomorrow, West Coast mayors are due to meet with Finance Minister Michael Cullen and discuss the so- called compensation package Government is to offer them.

“Let’s look at the balance sheet,” suggests sustainable forestry campaigner Brian Swale.

On the plus side, whatever the West Coast can make out of the $120 million one-off payment being offered by Government. A guess out of thin air; let’s say $8 million a year (less than 10% of the initial $100 million - the last $20 million being for lost rating income).

“On the negative side,” he said, “New Zealanders and the ‘Coast, will lose approximately the following:-”

$120 million that we are due to pay this year.

To this add the next set of figures in millions of dollars,
representing the loss every year for ever, as a result of
acting on Labour’s September ‘99 remit.

$5+ from sustainably managed South Westland rimu,
$32 from sustainably managed beech, expected to rise
to $102 if the forecasts from the 1986 Blakely Report
are applied pro rata to the $32,
$7.5 from the local economy from lost jobs,
$1.8 from lost income tax,
$2.6 to increased benefit payments on the ‘Coast,
$4 from rates paid to local bodies from TWC (could be
$20 million, judging from what the extra $20 million
$0.1 from TWC pest control,
$5 from DOC pest control it is suggested it needs,
$40 in furniture and panelling exports receipts - which
also balance funds out-flow,
$50 to increased furniture imports,
$0.5+ in pest control and other sustainable forestry
research funded by TWC.

“That all adds up to $151 rising to $221 million dollars every year, in addition to the $120 this year,” concludes Mr Swale. “And DOC pay no rates on their land, yet the tourism generated by their estate costs local bodies dearly in provision of services.”

On the ‘Coast, ultimately the economic cost will be much more.

Chris Perley, forest consultant, notes “Economic researchers estimate the downstream multiplier effect there would be a factor of about 11. Therefore, through the income stream that could be used locally, the direct loss of the local $50 million translates to a loss of $550 million every year in increased economic activity, now denied to them.”

Add social costs to the social economy in the form of increased unlawlessness, and suicides among the highest of any New Zealand region.

Government’s offer can best be likened to a pistol pointed at the head of the mayors. They have little option but to accept.

In September ‘99, Labour passed a remit by which it was destined to dishonour the West Coast Accord it signed in 1986 and the Resource Management Act it put in place in 1991. Chasing the elusive and naive northern urban green vote, it promised to turn its back on sustainable resource management, especially on the West Coast.

Now, it seems we all have to pay for this folly of dogma and power-seeking. And dearly at that. The West Coasters pay dearest of all. Losing a staggering potential $550 million a year of economic activity. Sustainably. For ever.

Brian Swale is a forestry professional who supports the practice of environmentally sound sustainable forestry. He can be contacted at http://www.caverock.net.nz/~bj/beech/ and 03-326-7447.

ENDS .......................

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