Closure of Tachikawa sawmill in Rotorua, New Zealand, is 'madness' with post-earthquake Christchurch in need of rebuilding, severe shortage of affordable homes, says Labor Party official, decries export of New Zealand logs and import of prefab houses

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , October 25, 2013 (press release) – Confirmation that Tachikawa sawmill will close with a loss of more than 100 jobs in Rotorua is a massive blow to the community, Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The closure of Tachikawa sawmill means 120 people, many with families and children, face a worrying future. There will be many sleepless nights in Rotorua.

“It is madness that a sawmill is shutting down when we have a city to rebuild and a severe shortage of affordable homes. The timber for the rebuild and new houses should be processed here and the timber industry should be flourishing.

“Instead we have New Zealand logs sent offshore to be processed and sold back to us. Meanwhile the industry struggles, sawmills close and hundreds of jobs are lost.

“And now we learn imported pre-fabs will be used to build houses. That’s ridiculous.

“In Government Labour would ensure New Zealand timber is more widely used in the rebuild and for building new homes. There would be no need for Tachikawa to close and those jobs would be kept.

“It has been a bad week for the regions. There were 86 jobs lost on Monday in Shannon and 21 lost yesterday in Wanganui, adding up to 227 jobs gone over the week. John Key tries to claim the regions are doing well but these numbers tell a very different story.

“Labour will stand with the regions when times are tough. When a major closure or redundancy can’t be stopped Labour will set up a Community Task Force that brings together the local community, business, workers and government to keep those workers in the region.

“That’s what we would do in Shannon where the fellmongery closure couldn’t be avoided. Rotorua is a different story - the sawmill has only closed because of National’s ideology,” Grant Robertson says.

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