MP criticizes South Australian government for early timberland sale talks with U.S.-based Hancock Natural Resource Group, says negotiations should not start until parliamentary committee issues cost-benefit report

LOS ANGELES , October 12, 2011 () – South Australia's state government should wait to negotiate with U.S.-based Hancock Natural Resource Group Inc. on the sale of harvesting rights for state timberland until a parliamentary committee reports on the matter next month, according to MP Rob Brokenshire.

Brokenshire said he wants assurance that the government will wait for the report and not negotiate with Hancock before, , the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) reported Oct. 11. However, state Treasurer Jack Snelling said the government is in the latter stages of the sale.

Boston, Massachusetts-based Hancock is seeking informal clearance for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to buy the state's softwood plantations assets, according to an Oct. 10 report by The Australian Financial Review.

Brokenshire, with the Family First party, said he was surprised the ACCC would consider approving such a proposal before the rights are even up for sale, reported ABC. The government has not yet issued a call for formal expressions of interest in the sale, said Brokenshire.

The sale plan is not new, according to Snelling, who said it was announced by the previous treasurer and a consultancy's regional impact statement has already been delivered. He added that he will look at recommendations from the parliamentary committee.

Snelling said the sale will not go ahead if the project “doesn't stack up” in terms of benefits for the region, according to Richard Sage, mayor of the District Council of Grant.

The primary source of this article is the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 11, 2011.

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