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

Half Empty: Dairy Prices Drop To Lowest Since August 2009

Dairy product prices fell to the lowest level in more than five years in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by declines in butter milk powder and whole milk powder.

”Stocks of dairy commodities are building across the globe due to Russia’s current ban on importing dairy products from many Western nations, and a lack of urgency from Chinese buyers, while at the same time global milk supplies are expanding,” AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said in a note. More>>

 

Slippage: NZ Universities Still In Top 3% Globally

This year the University of Auckland ranked 175 (down from 164 last year); the University of Otago ranked 251-275th (down from 226-250), both Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Canterbury held their ranks (at 276-300thand 301-350 respectively), while the University of Waikato dropped from 301-350 to 351-400. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Last Rites For The TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality... For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news