New Zealand sawmills should be given priority for Christchurch rebuild, says Labour party, claims log shortage is 'madness', accuses government of failing to protect wood processing industry while allowing logs to be shipped overseas

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , February 4, 2014 (press release) – National’s total neglect of the forestry industry has been proven once again as the Timber Industry Association shows a shortage of logs for local sawmillers, says Labour's Forestry spokesperson Shane Jones.

“It is madness that in a country with large pine forests there is a shortage of logs. Sawmillers have orders to fill but simply can’t do it as twice the number of logs processed here are sent overseas.

“Those logs are exported to China to be processed cheaply and often imported back to New Zealand for the Christchurch rebuild. That is completely idiotic, especially when New Zealand sawmillers mostly pay the same price as overseas buyers.

“There have been over the 3000 job losses in the New Zealand wood processing sector since 2008. That is a sign of an industry ignored by the Government.

“The industry desperately needs the minister to take action to create jobs and support the sector. But no one knows who she is – Jo Goodhew has been completely invisible despite massive debates raging on the safety and future the forestry sector.

“There is a simple solution to the problem. We have huge pine forests and a city to rebuild.

“New Zealand sawmillers should be given priority for the Christchurch rebuild. That’s what Labour will do.”

Labour Leader David Cunliffe and several other Labour MPs will be meeting with senior representatives of the Northland forestry industry tomorrow, he said.

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