Labour Bitterly Divided On West Coast Forestry

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

The Labour Party is bitterly divided over the future of indigenous forestry on the West Coast, Forestry Minister Lockwood Smith said today.

"Yesterday I announced a common sense proposal to end unsustainable management of indigenous forests by 31 December 2000, and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on any plans to sustainably manage beech forests," Dr Smith said.

"The Labour Party is bitterly divided on the issue. It has failed yet again to communicate any clear policy.

"Labour's next leader Phil Goff signed the West Coast Accord in 1986 which allowed for unsustainable management of rimu through to 2006 and sustainable indigenous forestry in perpetuity.

"Local MP Damien O'Connor says he is outraged that unsustainable management may end earlier than 2006, calling it geographical and racial discrimination. He also says access to beech forests for sustainable forestry must be reassured.

"Conservation spokesperson Jill Pettis says the unsustainable rimu harvest must stop now and that the beech forests should not be made available for sustainable forestry.

"Meanwhile, forestry spokesperson Jim Sutton has been strangely silent on the issue.

"It all adds up to a total failure of leadership by Labour's current leader Helen Clark. Once again, she has failed to demonstrate that her party is united on any policy."