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Beech scheme will not proceed

Labour
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The Timberlands West Coast beech scheme will not proceed under Labour despite the incredible claims by the State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall about contracts for beech logging, says Labour forestry spokesperson Pete Hodgson.

"Mr Ryall's childish behaviour neither surprises nor moves us. We find his actions ludicrous and his claims incredible.

"Whether contracts to cut up to 58,000 cubic metres of beech annually for the next eight years are conditional or backdated, the beech scheme will not proceed.

"The supposed sequence of events is beyond belief. On August 24 Mr Ryall said the Government had "agreed in principle" to the beech scheme, "subject to Timberlands' demonstrating the commercial viability of sustainable beech production."

"Today that same minister is asking New Zealanders to believe that within days of that announcement - "in late August and the first week of September" - he and Timberlands had moved from agreement in principle to signing eight-year contracts.

"That's incredible. It is also extraordinary that the minister did not announce the existence of the contracts, if they existed, when Labour announced its policy on indigenous forests and its local economic development plans for the West Coast on September 10.

"Moreover it is incredible that Timberlands could sign anything other than highly conditional contracts in late August and early September when it did not confirm it had lodged resource consent applications for the beech scheme until September 30.

"Mr Ryall's announcement comes as no great surprise, however. When Labour met members of the Coast Action Network at Parliament on Tuesday last week, the beech contracts were openly alluded to.

"Mr Ryall might now like to explain why he has not released the alleged contracts. Let's see them."

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