Rimu Logging

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

Forestry Minister Lockwood Smith has accused Labour of political grandstanding over the logging of rimu at Charleston on the West Coast.

But he has also promised to consider the concerns of protesters, who are perched in trees in the area in an attempt to stop state-owned enterprise Timberlands from logging the rimu.

Timberlands obligation to offer rimu from Charleston to sawmillers under the West Coast Accord was confirmed by the High Court in 1995.

Labours forestry spokesman Jim Sutton today said the logging was clearly being carried out on an unsustainable basis.

Dr Smith said this was nothing new.

Labours former environment minister Phil Goff knew the logging at Charleston would be on an unsustainable basis when Mr Goff signed the accord in 1986, Dr Smith said.

Mr Sutton also claimed the rimu logging was not necessary to preserve jobs on the coast.

However, Timberlands had advised that 80 fulltime jobs were directly dependant on the Charleston rimu operation, Dr Smith said.

Labours conservation spokesman Pete Hodgson insisted Timberlands was knocking down the rimu under the pretence that they are legally required to.

But Dr Smith pointed to the 1995 High Court judgement as confirming the Crowns legal obligation to offer rimu from Charleston for sale if demand was there.

Meanwhile, the minister today met with two members of Native Forest Action, the group protesting at Charleston.

They claimed the intent of the accord was to allow unsustainable rimu logging to support local sawmills.

Such support was no longer necessary, they said, and they called on the government to make Timberlands stop.

Dr Smith said the protesters had raised a number of serious issues and he would seek more information.

I will ask my officials for more advice on the matters raised, he said. The minister also intends to discuss the situation with West Coast MP Damien OConnor.

But Dr Smith was critical of the protesters tactics.

Todays meeting was arranged prior to the treetop protests on the pretext of talking about beech forests covered by the accord, he said.

However, the protesters at the meeting wanted to talk about the rimu logging. I am happy to listen to people who want to raise valid points with me about forestry policy issues, Dr Smith said.

Im not happy about people making appointments with me about one thing, subsequently pulling protests stunts which attract media attention and then coming to talk to me about another matter in a completely different environment. If groups such as Native Forest Action want a constructive dialogue with me in future they should act in a more adult fashion.