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Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 5
Labour's outspoken economic development
spokesman Shane Jones has lashed out at
"arrogant" foreign owners of New Zealand's
forests, saying their pursuit of the highest
possible pro ts comes at the expense of
local workers, communities and the wood
Mr Jones's comments come as he and
industry gures ring alarm bells that local
processors are being priced out of the log
market as skyrocketing Chinese demand
drives prices higher.
" ere's a hell of a lot of fear now in the
wood processing sector that they cannot
secure adequate contracts that give them
a ordable and durable supplies," Mr Jones
said. "It's got to the point that the viability of
their businesses is being threatened."
e problem was particularly acute for
regions including Mr Jones's home territory
of Northland where sawmills were among
the few employers of young Maori.
He pointed the nger at the foreign-
owned timber management organisations
(timos) which own much of New Zealand's
forests including the United States company
" e organisations, in particular Hancock,
have become arrogant," he said. " ey're
icking away all the domestic New Zealand
producers and they're chasing the speculative
at was a slap in the face for the
communities which e ectively subsidised
" ese foreign-owned companies rely on
ratepayers to upgrade roads so they can move
their logs to the ports, they rely on New
Zealand's social insurance when workers in
the forests are killed.
" e foreign owners' agenda has eclipsed
the rights and interests of the New Zealand
taxpayer and workforce, this is not a
sustainable forest policy."
New Zealand exported a record three
million cubic metres of logs to China in
the September quarter, a 40% increase on
the same period a year earlier and log prices
approached record highs during the period.
Jon Tanner, chief executive of the Wood
Processors' Association, said the increasing
proportion of the wood harvest being
exported as raw logs was "getting to be quite
a serious situation".
"We're really just becoming a plantation for
other countries' interests."
e processing sector employed 20,000
Part of the problem was that the local
processing industry's productivity was low by
global standards and required big investment
to bring it up to scratch.
He wanted to see stronger Government
backing for the sector.
Associate Minister of Primary Industries
Jo Goodhew acknowledged high export log
prices meant conditions were challenging for
" e most important thing the Government
can do is create a good business environment,"
Hancock did not return calls but Forest
Owners' Association president Paul Nicholls
said owners were looking for the best return
on their investment.
"Most forest owners sell somewhere
between half and two-thirds of their
product to domestic mills but there's always
competition for those logs from overseas
buyers, so it does come down to a matter of
economics, which markets the domestic mills
are selling into and what they can a ord to
pay for logs."
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Jones hits out at
'arrogant' forest owners
Italy wants to buy back a
Mediterranean island owned
by New Zealand businessman
Michael Harte, who bought it
just two months ago.
e 47-year-old paid
$4.8 million at auction last
month for the pristine Budelli
Island --- an Italian national
park considered to be one of
the most beautiful islands in the
Budelli is part of the La
Maddalena island group which
lies between Sardinia and
Corsica and is renowned for its
"pink" beach at the south-eastern
part of the island.
Mr Harte, the
information o cer for Australia's
Commonwealth Bank, said he
liked the idea of being involved
with a conser vation project in
But Italy's Senate has now
passed a special dispensation
which would allow the State
to buy back the island, e
e Government has until
January 8, 90 days after the
island was sold at auction, to
decide whether to claim Budelli
back for its original asking price
under a deal in which Mr Harte
would be reimbursed.
" e island of Budelli could
nally return to public ownership
. . . to our immense satisfaction,"
said a statement from a group
of MPs from SEL, a left-wing
party, which had pushed for the
island to be reclaimed.
Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, a
former environment minister
who had collected 85,000
signatures for a petition
protesting the sale of the island,
said: " is is a rst victory."
After Mr Harte bought the
island, he told APNZ his " rst
and most important objective"
was to preser ve the ecology of
both the land-based and the
marine-based ora and fauna.
" ere are so many parts
of the world that are being
exploited that there are few
opportunities to take a practical
and deliberate step to help
protect some of these very
Mr Harte said he was in
discussions with the Italian
Government to establish he
was "bona de" as someone who
would protect the environment.
"Hopefully they see that
a private person can be as
responsible as a public institution
--- and I'll protect it in the same
way that the national park ideals
were set up."
Budelli is an unspoiled island
of 1.6 square kilometres where
construction is banned and access
is permitted only accompanied
by sta from the park's authority.
NZ man could lose his island
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