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New Zealand Guilty of Double Standard on Subsidies

The Government's fierce defence of the subsidised logging of West Coast native forests is at odds with New Zealand's opposition at APEC to agricultural and forestry subsidies, according to the Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Forest and Bird's Conservation Officer, Eugenie Sage, called on the Government to explain its double standard on forestry subsidies.

"How can New Zealand take the lead internationally in attacking subsidies for primary production while the National Government subsidises the logging of ancient rainforests by its own logging business, Timberlands West Coast?"

Ms Sage said the Government charged only a peppercorn royalty for the beech and rimu logs sold to Timberlands from publicly-owned native forests.

"Timberlands is required to pay only $5 a cubic metre royalty for rimu and beech logs. This is a derisory amount and only a fraction of the market royalty for rimu of $300 a cubic metre and $100 for beech."

Ms Sage said on top of this huge subsidy, the Government did not require Timberlands to pay a dividend.

"Without these generous subsidies Timberlands would not be embarking on its environmentally destructive logging plans for the West Coast beech forests."

The Government has justified the subsidies by saying they were necessary to create employment on the West Coast.

"The Government ignores the fact that far more employment would be generated if the forests were managed for nature conservation, recreation and tourism."

"But, in any case, the Government does not accept other countries subsidising forestry industries for employment reasons."

Ms Sage said the future of forestry on the West Coast was not threatened by an end to native forest logging as the region had over 35,000 hectares of plantation forest.

"These plantation forests will generate far greater revenues and employment than the native forest logging can. Nor do they need to be subsidised."

Ms Sage said the Government's promotion at APEC of New Zealand as a clean green country had also been blown out of the water by the ferocity of its attacks on Labour's proposals to protect West Coast rainforests.

"Today, the Treasurer, the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, the Minister of Food and Fibre, the Associate Minister of Forests, along with the leader and deputy leader of National's potential coalition partner, ACT, have all issued media statements attacking Labour for its support for native forest conservation"

"Yet, New Zealand has less justification than any other country at APEC to carry on logging ancient rainforests. We have vast areas of plantation forests and a buoyant tourism industry ready to profit from the creation of new reserves and national parks."

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