Labour accused of ‘rifling through’ NZ First’s forestry policy

Winston Peters
Winston Peters.
Labour appears to have lifted a New Zealand First policy straight from a speech made on Tuesday by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said yesterday,  in a statement  headed "Labour backing forestry to grow", Labour would establish a new Forestry Service in Rotorua.

The service would help grow the forestry sector and provide stability for investment in processing and manufacturing wood in New Zealand, rather than exporting raw logs.

Two days earlier, Mr Peters announced in Northland he would split forestry from the Ministry of Primary Industries to re-establish the NZ Forestry Service as a practical, get-things-done department.

During a visit to Mt Pokaka Timber Products, Mr Peters said there was insufficient planning for the future of the forestry leader.

"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."

Ms Ardern said forestry was New Zealand’s third largest export sector but there had been a dramatic switch away from processing to exporting raw logs.

While 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, she said.

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

NZ First planned to have annual allowable cuts under quota to avoid depletion of plantation forestry.

"More replanting must begin and the best way to ramp up plantings stems from greater returns."

Mr Peters did not include any costings in his announcement.

Ms Ardern announced Labour would allocate up to $20million to help construct a new prefabricated housing plant in Gisborne.

It would help keep forestry in New Zealand hands by requiring the sale of logging rights on land more than 50ha to be approved by the Overseas Investment Office for overseas purchases.

Following Labour’s policy release, Mr Peters said it was one thing to steal policies but it was dishonest not to acknowledge where they came from.

"The desperate two old parties are obviously rifling through our speeches and documents for ideas.

"However, we’re delighted some common sense and foresighted thinking for the betterment of New Zealand is making its way into the promises of National and Labour," he said.

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