Forestry good place for Labour and NZ First to start

Discussing forestry policy is a good place to start for Labour leader Jacinda Ardern when she meets with New First leader Winston Peters this week to talk about a possible coalition.

Labour and NZ First agree almost completely on forestry policy because during the campaign, Labour appeared to have lifted a NZ First policy straight from a speech made by Mr Peters.

Both Labour and NZ First support splitting forestry from the Ministry of Primary Industries to re-establish the NZ Forestry Service as a practical, get-things-done department.
Mr Peters is on the record of saying there is insufficient planning for the future of  forestry.

``We want to ensure continuity of supply for both the domestic and export industries.

"We don't want all the add-on value of our raw logs being lost overseas."

Forestry is New Zealand's third largest export sector but Mr Ardern said there was a dramatic switch away from processing to exporting raw logs.

Although 3000 jobs in wood processing and manufacturing had been lost since 2008, raw log exports had tripled.

A Labour government would have first preference for using wood in new building projects, including KiwiBuild.

Mr Peters said NZ First did not plan to tax raw logs being exported but it could put restrictions on their exports by making exporters apply for permits on year-by-year basis.

National, which is also talking with Mr Peters this week, does not have a specific forestry policy, just a policy on primary industries.

The policy sheet showed New Zealand exported $5.9 billion of forestry products each year.

Prime Minister Bill English is sure to be able to accommodate any forestry demands from Mr Peters, including taking the department out of Primary Industries.

The Green Party, which has ruled itself out of a coalition with National, and is likely to be sidelined by NZ First, wants to expand diversity of species in plantation forests, managing and using them sustainably.

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