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

Issue 49: Werewolf Weekender

Philip Matthews: From The Lost Continent
It’s a case of better late than never for Olivier Assayas’ marvellous After May/Apres Mai, which first screened at Venice in 2012, had a couple of North Island screenings last year during the International Film Festival’s “Autumn Events” season, got a theatrical release in Australia – but not here – and only now appears on DVD, after Assayas himself has moved on. More>>

The Complicatist: Blue Eyed & Soulful
For a while in June, the top two singles on the US Billboard charts featured Iggy Azalea, an Australian model turned hip hop performer. To some, this may seem like just the latest chapter in a long saga of whites ripping off black culture, while enriching themselves in the process. Obviously, there’s some truth in the stereotype. Yet it can also obscure the positive collaborations – in jazz, soul music and hip hop – between musicians who treated each other as creative equals, race regardless. More>>

Satire: Carry On Captaining
Oh hello. Scanner Technician Davis. To what do I owe the pleasure?
You think we’re what?
Oh, pish. This vessel has been travelling along smoothly for generations – particularly smoothly in the last few years though I say so myself – and I happen to know we have never once been hit by an asteroid... More>>

 

Parliament Today:

False Electoral Return: John Banks Sentenced To Community Detention, Community Work

“The conviction of John Banks today is another sad chapter for John Banks and the ACT Party”, says Labour candidate for Epsom Michael Wood. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of ISIS And Labour

While global attention got distracted by the fate of MH17 and the atrocities in Gaza, the world’s other mega ‘bad news’ story – the rise of ISIS-led fundamentalism in Iraq – has reached a tipping point. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild: Christchurch City Council Releases Milestone Report

The Cameron Partners report says the Council may need to find an additional $783 million to $883 million by 2019... Options Cameron Partners proposed include increasing rates, borrowing more, maximising insurance payments, and freeing up capital from its commercial assets. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: Parliament Adjourns

The 50th Parliament has adjourned for the final time. After the completion of the adjournment debate, MPs left for the campaign trail with Parliament to be dissolved on August 14 ahead of the September 20 election. More>>

ALSO:

Novopayout: Government-Owned Company To Take Over School Payroll

After lengthy negotiations, the Ministry of Education and the existing school payroll provider, Talent2, have settled both on the amounts payable by Talent2 towards the costs of remediating the Novopay service and a new operating model for the school payroll system. More>>

ALSO:

Employment: Labour Will Raise Minimum Wage, Restore Work Rights

A Labour government will raise the minimum wage $2 an hour to $16.25 and restore work rights to ensure the benefits of economic growth are shared fairly by all New Zealanders, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. More>>

ALSO:

Police: Crewe File Review Released

No new evidence has come to light implicating any specific person as being responsible for the murders of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe... The review identifies there is a distinct possibility that Exhibit 350 (the brass .22 cartridge case) may be fabricated evidence, and that if this is the case, that a member of Police would have been responsible. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Issue #49: Gordon Campbell Interviews Laila Harre

For 25 years, Labour and National have been in virtual agreement about the basics of economic policy, and differed mainly on how to go about managing its social consequences. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news