Labour Split On Beech Plans

  • Tony Ryall
State Owned Enterprises

Gaping holes are emerging in the Labour Party on the issue of Timberland's sustainable beech plans as Labour MPs publicly undermine Helen Clark's opposition to sustainable logging, State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said today.

"Just days before the Labour conference passed a remit banning all indigenous logging on Crown land, Labour's forestry spokesman Jim Sutton issued a statement saying that 'Labour is committed to the sustainable management of all indigenous forests'. (Jim Sutton press statement 20.11.98)

"But at the conference itself, Helen Clark contradicted her forestry spokesman when she torpedoed efforts made by West Coast MP Damien O'Connor to persuade party members to back sustainable logging.

"Damien O'Connor is at loggerheads with Helen Clark on the beech scheme. Miss Clark and her former press secretary Eugenie Sage - now with Forest & Bird - were behind the remits to ban indigenous logging which were passed at the Labour Party conference.

"Mr O'Connor has previously said the beech scheme was truly sustainable and he would be giving it his full support until it could be proved otherwise. (Greymouth Evening Star 7/10/98)

"The Labour leadership is kow-towing to environmental groups and has lost touch with its grass-roots membership.

"The remits passed at the Labour Party conference would mean the loss of jobs on the West Coast and increased importation of wood from Indonesia and other countries where forests are clear-felled rather than sustainably managed."

Mr Ryall said Helen Clark should listen to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. In his report on Timberland's beech plans the Commissioner recommended 'a programme to improve public understanding of indigenous forest utilisation issues, where both production and conservation goals are sought'.