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Cullen insulting to forestry industry

"Michael Cullen will never get a job as a lumber jack, because he doesn't know an unprocessed log from a processed one," Associate Minister of Forestry, David Carter said today.

"His comments in today's Dominion reveal his total ignorance of the forestry and woodworking industry," said Mr Carter.

MAF statistics showed the export of unprocessed logs from New Zealand had steadily declined over the last two years.

"In December 1997 we exported close to six million cubic metres of logs at a value of $679 million, in June this year we exported only 5.2 million cubic metres of logs at a value of $465 million."

"What Mr Cullen calls "unprocessed logs" includes specialist wooden frames for paintings, wooden jewellery boxes and wine casks and honey boxes."

"Calling this growth "commodity exporting at its most basic" is insulting to the manufacturers and craftspeople of these products. Mr Cullen obviously doesn't understand the difference between unprocessed and processed timber."

"New Zealand exporters are also steadily increasing the amount of sawn timber sent overseas, despite last year's Asian crisis. And we are getting higher prices for our timber. In December 1997 we earnt $378.62 per square metre for sawn timber. In June this year we earnt $429.45 for the same product."

"There has also been a steady increase in the export of fibreboard and plywood, two products increasingly in demand for building in Asia."

"New Zealand's forestry industry realises the importance of processing our timber onshore because it creates jobs and adds significant value to our timber exports."

ENDS

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