Forestry industry counters Anderton comments

21 Feb 2006

The New Zealand forestry industry is surprised by and disappointed with the comments attributed on www.newsroom.co.nz to forestry minister Jim Anderton which do not reflect its view of the meeting held with him today, New Zealand Forest Owners Association President Peter Berg said today.

"The minister met with forest owners and offered an alternative channel of communication, but the discussion added little and certainly did not assuage our concerns. The industry has not yet received sufficient assurance that government is serious about doing the right thing by forestry," Mr Berg said.

"It is widely acknowledged now that the forest sector is facing serious inequities and distortions, yet we remain in the dark as to how government is going to fix these.

"Therefore, in contrast to the minister's comments, we will not be re-engaging with government officials over this issue as it is now delivering no progress. At this point we have no evidence that there is even any point talking to government.

"The forest industry is not asking for handouts or a free lunch. We have earned our lunch. We have always agreed that credits and liabilities go hand in hand.

"Nor are we seeking to be fast-tracked as a special case, as the government suggested on Friday. High-level decisions have been made for several sectors already including agriculture and transport, which are to be exempt from Kyoto measures.

"Far from forestry asking to be fast-tracked, the fact is that the one sector which can impact positively on climate change for New Zealand is the one sector that we can’t seem to get any decisions on."

Mr Berg acknowledged that there are vulnerable sectors such as agriculture that cannot face their full cost of emissions liabilities "but this is not a basis for significantly penalising forestry, with the effect that the potential for the sector to assist the New Zealand economy and environment continues to be stifled".

Mr Berg said that in order to inject more accuracy into the debate, the industry was releasing a summary document that encapsulates the principles it has been advocating to government officials.

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For more information, please contact:
David Rhodes, chief executive, NZFOA
Tel: 04 473 4769. Mobile: 0274 955 525