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Buying out broke timber mills is not the answer

16 October 2008

Buying out broke timber mills is not the answer

The Government should be helping the struggling timber industry through the downturn, but purchasing their plants is not the way to do it, the Green Party says.

"I can understand the hurt of the workers and their demand that the Government take over where industry seems to have failed them," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"But the way to do it is to provide a market for what they produce.

"Otherwise, we are treating just the symptoms of the economic climate, not the causes. And in the end the public will own an unsustainable business which just stockpiles unsold product.

"A logical way to assist the timber industry, save jobs and provide a social payback is to invest in their market by advancing the Government's state home building programme.

"We have 10,000 people waiting for an affordable home, and not enough state homes. We have spare capacity in the construction industry and all the industries that supply it, like timber. It's time someone joined the dots," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"The Government already has a programme to build state houses. They must invest more in this programme - to use that spare capacity in the industry.

"It will never be cheaper to build a house. Building costs have been high because - until recently - there has been a shortage of tradespeople and materials. That is no longer the case.

"New home building consents have fallen by 42 percent since mid 2007. This has led to major unemployment not just in the construction industry, but in all the industries that feed it," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"It is time to make the links between tough economic times, job losses in the construction and timber industries and chronic housing shortages."


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