Helen Clark's integrity questionedAssociate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control
"Labour's claims that the recent signing of beech contracts has been done secretly doesn't stack up -when their own West Coast MP Damien O'Connor was attempting to facilitate the signing of contracts in letters he sent as far back as May," says Associate Food and Fibre Minister, David Carter.
"Helen Clark's integrity is on the line. It's public knowledge that Timberlands West Coast has been trying to sign beech contracts to prove economic viability since the Government gave them the green light last December."
"Now Helen Clark is running scared because of the extent of commercial interest in the beech scheme. She is now prepared to break these legally binding contracts, disregarding the efforts of her local Member in facilitating these contracts."
Mr O'Connor wrote to the West Coast timber industry three times earlier this year, outlining his support for the beech scheme and urging local sawmillers to negotiate contracts.
"As late as 1 September 1999 he is quoted in the Christchurch Press as saying he is supportive of some good long-term contracts being in place for West Coast sawmillers and processors "as soon as possible"."
"Timberlands West Coast has now reported that nine beech contracts have been signed. Helen Clark's integrity is under fire if she attempts to over-ride these legally binding deals."
"Despite earlier assurances, Helen Clark's latest comments mean she is prepared to cancel existing contracts, thereby exposing the taxpayer to significant financial compensation."