20 Mar 2014

Politicians woo forestry sector

8:38 am on 20 March 2014

Politicians from three different parties have told the forestry and wood processing sector what they think it needs to do to grow.

Labour leader David Cunliffe unveiled his party's blueprint for the forestry sector at the Forest-Wood conference in Wellington.

He said Labour would introduce a range of tax measures to incentivise investment in forestry, encourage replanting and bring in a pro-wood policy that prioritised wood for domestic construction.

Mr Cunliffe said a Labour government would give forestry and the rural communities reliant on it, a much needed boost by partnering with the industry to turn more logs into finished products in New Zealand.

He said Labour would crack down on the appalling forestry safety record by introducing corporate manslaughter rules and improve forestry roads.

Neither the Greens nor the National Party were ready to unveil their full forestry policies.

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew said the sector was already the country's third biggest export earner - predicted to bring in $5 billion this year.

She said in order to grow more needs to be done at home, and the long-term focus is to increase demand for high value wood products domestically and in export markets.

Ms Goodhew said the National government was working very hard to create the right business environment for that to occur.

Green party co-leader Russel Norman also saw the need for more high value domestic processing and said he was excited by biofuel and biopolymer developments.

He said a future Green government would offer up $1 million prize for the first company that could build a 10 storey structural timber building in New Zealand.

Dr Norman said it had already been done in Melbourne and the Canadians had offered a similar type of prize to encourage the development of the structural timber industry there.