Tim­ber sup­port prom­ise

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Prom­ises the next Labour govern­ment will boost the forestry in­dus­try could mean good news for Toko­roa.

Labour leader David Cun­liffe an­nounced new poli­cies at the Forest­Wood Con­fer­ence 2014 to sup­port the in­dus­try’s jour­ney from vol­ume to value.

Among the game- chang­ing ideas were plans to en­cour­age com­pa­nies to in­vest in new tech­nol­ogy by of­fer­ing tax de­fer­rals.

Cun­liffe also sug­gested sus­pen­sory loans to pro­mote new for­est plant­ing and a pro-wood govern­ment pro­cure­ment pol­icy for govern­ment-funded build­ings up to four storeys high to boost the do­mes­tic mar­ket.

‘‘Ev­ery­time we send a log off a wharf we ex­port jobs,’’ he said.

He said Na­tional just ‘‘cruise along’’ with no clear plan for the econ­omy.

‘‘ Labour’s eco­nomic up­grade will lead to bet­ter jobs and higher wages.’’

Cun­liffe said es­ti­mates show the poli­cies will cost the Govern­ment $30 mil­lion in the first year and this will in­crease to $50m.

‘‘ That’s based on ini­tia­tives such as the tax cred­its we are of­fer­ing but it de­pends how many people take them up.’’

He said that will be off­set by the higher lev­els of taxation as com­pa­nies make more money and the pre­dicted lower lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment.

Kin­leith Mill stands to ben­e­fit by most of these changes, he said, in­clud­ing im­proved pre­dictabil­ity of wood sup­ply.

‘‘We con­sulted care­fully with the in­dus­try – we know that the ben­e­fits will flow through to com­mu­ni­ties.’’

When asked why such moves haven’t been em­ployed to date he said: ‘‘The cur­rent govern­ment is asleep at the wheel. I don’t think it’s their busi­ness to en­gage in a long-term in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment strat­egy where as we think it should be at the heart of what we do.

‘‘The cur­rent govern­ment might be happy to see how tim­ber goes off shore as ru­ral logs but we’re not.’’

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