Election 2014

16 Oct 2008

No plans for Govt to intervene over mill jobs - Anderton

1:40 pm on 16 October 2008

Forestry Minister and Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton says there are no plans for the Government to step in to save mill jobs.

There have been calls for the Government to intervene after 19 timber mill closures this year.

Carter Holt Harvey announced on Tuesday 14 October that it is closing its mills at Putaruru and Mount Maunganui, with the loss of 316 jobs.

Mr Anderton, who is the Labour-led government's spokesperson on forestry, told Morning Report that there were no plans for a Government bailout of the industry.

Despite the bad press, he says some timber companies, such as those on the East Coast, are doing very well.

The call for the Government to step in to take the mills over came from John Stulen from the Forest Industry Contractors Association.

"I believe they should help Putaruru specifically with an initiative to keep those people and keep those families out of destitution by investing some money in nationalising a business there which could develop a new wood product. There's plenty of skills in Putaruru; there's plenty of hard-working people."

Timber Industry Federation executive director Wayne Coffey says the Government should not simply stand by.

"If you're going to part-nationalise the banks, and you're going to guarantee their liabilities, there has to be a quid pro quo, and I think the banking system has to support the export industry because without an export industry there won't be an economic recovery in New Zealand."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia agrees, saying if the Government can buy back Air New Zealand, bail out the Bank of New Zealand and buy back rail, it should step in to save mill jobs.