Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Forest owners ask critics to help


28 November 2013


Forest owners ask critics to help

Forest owners are asking politicians, unionists and commentators to help them solve the industry's safety crisis and to stop making political capital out of tragedy.

“We are all agreed – inside and outside the industry – that the death and serious injury toll is unacceptable. But there appears to be no willingness by our critics to engage with the facts and help us find solutions,” says Forest Owners president Paul Nicholls.

“Labour Minister Simon Bridges implies that we have all the answers. That's going too far.

“We are rolling out a range of initiatives that have been developed in consultation with growers, contractors, ACC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. We know that these, along with better enforcement by his ministry, will yield huge improvements – especially among those that operate on the fringe of the industry.

“But serious harm accidents still occur in our best forests where harvesting teams are well-trained, experienced and motivated. We don't know why this is, which is why we are committed to having an independent expert enquiry. We need all aspects of our operations analysed to find out what we can do better.”

Forest Owners health and safety chair Sheldon Drummond says CTU president Helen Kelly deserves praise for bringing the issue to public prominence, but criticises her for playing fast and loose with statistics to make her case.

“Everyone has the right to return home safely to their families after work. But when Ms Kelly states that the accident rate in NZ forests is several times higher than the United Kingdom and Australia, she unfairly exploits bereaved families, because it implies there are easy answers that forest owners and contractors have callously not adopted,” he says.

“As Ms Kelly knows, the accident rate in NZ forests is almost identical to that in British Columbia, where the terrain is very similar to New Zealand. In Britain and Australia the accident rate is about 10 per cent lower than here – the result, we believe, of easier terrain. This enables them to make greater use of mechanical harvesting, which is safer.”

Mr Drummond says the industry's safety performance has improved over the years, when measured against the number of logs harvested, but the headline numbers have not improved. This is because of big increases in the harvest. Also accident statistics worldwide are erratic, with nations having good years and bad – often for no obvious reason.

“This has been one such bad year for our industry. It has been tragic for the victims, their families, workmates and their employers. Hopefully the enquiry will help us understand why.”

Mr Nicholls dismisses attacks by Labour's forestry spokesperson Shane Jones on the larger forest owners, that tend to be foreign-owned, as “political posturing”.

“About 50 per cent of forest fatalities and serious harm injuries occur in the larger forests that are responsible for 80 per cent of the country's log production. The other 50 per cent occur in the smaller forests that make up 20 per cent of production.

“Since most of the larger forests are foreign-owned, this means the people that Mr Jones portrays as being evil foreign exploiters are taking safety very seriously. Attacking them is a cheap shot that contributes nothing to making our forests safer for our workers.”

Mr Nicholls says he hopes to be able to announce the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into forest safety before Christmas.

“When that happens, I hope the political gamesmanship will stop and all our critics will make submissions based on fact, and keep open minds as to the solutions. The people who work in our forests deserve nothing less.”

[ends]

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Open Source // Open Society - Full Coverage

War: What’s To Commemorate?

Gordon Campbell in Werewolf: It is easy to know what we don’t want to commemorate on Anzac Day this year...

In fact, is there anything that can be validly commemorated on this 100th anniversary of Gallipoli?

Beyond, that is, a fleeting sense of empathy with the thousands of soldiers killed or wounded on April 25 1915 and in the months thereafter, until the whole thing was finally called off in December 1915.

(Most of the New Zealand survivors were transferred to the trenches in France, and eventually to the battle of the Somme in 1916.) More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Peter Ellis Case: Minister Declines Request For Commission Of Inquiry

Justice Minister Amy Adams has declined a request from supporters of Peter Ellis for a Commission of Inquiry on the basis that an inquiry cannot be used to determine the liability of any person. More>>

Quakes: New Process For Red Zone Crown Offers

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Battle Obama Is Waging Over The TPP

For the past two and a half years, this column has been arguing that the fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will hinge on whether US President Barack Obama can win Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress... Last week, the White House finally, finally unveiled a draft TPA Bill. More>>

ALSO:

Greens: Govt Breaks Free Doctors Visit Promise To Kids

Documents obtained by the Green Party show that the Government decided to fund only 90 percent of doctors’ visits for children suffering from an injury in an attempt trim the cost of the so-called “free” visits. More>>

ALSO:

Other Wars: Extension Of NZDF Commitment In Afghanistan

The New Zealand Defence Force’s commitment of mentors and support staff to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Afghanistan has been extended out to December 2016, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>

PM's Press Conference: Auckland Property Prices Increasing "Too Rapidly"

John Key accepted that Auckland property prices 'are going up too rapidly” in a press conference held today in Wellington, however he said that this is not anything new. More>>

ALSO:

Press Conference: ANZAC PMs Concerned About ISIL Bringing The War Home

Prime Minister Key and Prime Minister Abbott spoke of the bond formed between Australia and New Zealand in the “baptism of fire” of Gallipoli. Abbott stated that New Zealand and Australia’s values and interests are linked, and this is reflected in the joint operation in Iraq which will begin shortly. More>>

ALSO:

GCSB's China Shopping: Key Damages China Relationship

Evidence that the Key Government recklessly approved a GCSB spying operation to intercept Chinese diplomatic communications between offices in Auckland will pointlessly damage our relationship with China, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Reserve Bank And Auckland Housing

The ‘crisis – what crisis?’ response by the government to the Auckland housing price bubble is no longer acceptable. So says Reserve Bank governor Grant Spencer... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news