12 Oct 2010

PM moves to reassure forestry industry over ETS

9:34 pm on 12 October 2010

Prime Minister John Key has assured the forestry industry they can have faith in the long-term stability of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Speaking at a major forestry conference in Wellington on Tuesday, Mr Key said the Government is committed to growing the sector, which is New Zealand's third-biggest export earner.

It is the first joint conference representing growers, processors, manufacturers and contractors.

Mr Key told delegates at Te Papa their phenomenal success was all the more impressive when compared with the lacklustre performance of the export sector generally in recent years.

Timber and wood product exports brought in $3.9 billion in the year to August, up 16% on the previous year.

Mr Key says the export sector overall has been in recession since 2002, and New Zealand will never get rich as long as it spends more than it earns.

He says the Government is working hard to boost productivity through its tax and labour law reforms, free trade agreements, cutting red tape around resource management, investing in infrastructure and promoting the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In response to comments that the ETS has not led to a big surge of tree planting because people are worried about future changes to the scheme, Mr Key said the Government was committed to it.

He says time will prove the ETS is not the "scary monster" some people have painted it as.

'Coordinated approach' to grow industry

The forestry conference was told it will take a co-ordinated approach to grow the industry and manage its maturing plantations.

The conference is focusing on maximising value through the supply chain, as well as increasing exports to meet a rising international demand for wood.

Wood Council chair Doug Ducker says the conference is a chance for the industry to take a look at itself and see how it can move forward.

Mr Ducker told delegates that the Wood Council will be carrying out a major sector study over the next six months to determine what the industry can do better to co-ordinate and grow its collective value.