I hope this newsletter finds you well.
There has been no reasonable level of consultation with the affected industry regarding the proposed Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill. This shocking forestry bill was rushed through by Minister Jones. There is no justifiable reason for the rushed process in which this legislation has been put through under urgency.
There has been no evidence produced to show there is a national problem with supply. The number of established supply agreements suggest the opposite.
This legislation will create red tape by requiring everyone in the forestry industry to be registered. This will also incorporate scientists, machine operators and anyone who gives advice related to the forestry sector.
Opposed by a broad cross section of primary sectors, in addition to forestry, it “enables” the government to create regulations that would control when and where growers supply the market which potentially affects all primary sectors.
The negative impacts are likely to be felt most acutely by Māori (who are significant forest land owners) and numerous Mum and Dad kiwi retirement investors.
There has been no cost analysis done, with the majority of submitters saying the bill adds cost for the many parties involved in any one forestry block. The New Zealand Institute of Research also concludes this bill will reduce GDP.
Clause 63ZZ gives the Government the ability to introduce a levy which may benefit a limited number of sawmills but will overall increase costs to the sector. This clause could also result in a breach of New Zealand’s World Trade agreements by forcing a subsidised price, and for logs to be sent domestically.
Even if the legislation is found not to contravene trade law it is certainly poor trade policy sending a signal of domestic protectionism at the very time New Zealand is urging trade partners to maintain their commitment to free trade.
It could also reduce confidence in the industry which means less investment in the sector. This will see a resultant decrease in the jobs that the investment would have generated throughout the supply chain from planting right through to felling and transporting to domestic processors or overseas.
The Immigration Minister must do his part to rebuild our economy. He needs to get his ministry working faster to process border exceptions for essential workers.
Days after they have been made, numerous business still have not received a response to their Other Essential Workers border exception requests.
When businesses urgently need workers here to get on with rebuilding our economy, this simply isn’t good enough. Certainty is required so they can make a plan for the future.
Economic development is not a strong suit of the Government. I worry the Government, which doesn’t understand business, isn’t acting with the required urgency to ensure efficient processing of these requests.
Businesses that need to bring in workers for significant economic activity should be able to do so swiftly. Failure to make this happen will bring unwelcome consequences for our economy.
However, any Immigration must be done competently. This last week has shown clearly that managing our borders is beyond the capability of this inept Government. A safe and simple regime of a test on Day 3 of quarantine (which means isolation and no mingling!), another test on day 12, then if the results are negative people are released into the community appears to not be in practice. Instead, we have no testing, or intermittent testing, mixing with others in a quarantine of varying lengths of time, and worse still with members of the public! The worst stories are of people released who haven’t been cleared and then test positive for the virus. What a shambolic management of a critical part of this country’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
To add to the story of incompetence, a little story was released on Friday about our prison system, which this Government refers to as ‘people in our care’. Remember the growing prison population and outdated buildings that the previous Government was tackling by building a new prison in Waikato? This prison could hold up to 3,000 prisoners in modern surroundings designed and built to enable rehabilitation and skills based learning. Labour cancelled that, but still needed more beds urgently so contracted a modular build program for $143 million in November 2017 to build 1000 new prison beds. (Remember Judith Collins had a similar situation and used containers which the prisoners helped refurbish to gain skills and qualifications, in under 12 months!)
Well, 2 and ½ years on, what have we the taxpayers got for our money? Nothing. Not one extra bed. When confronted with this at Select Committee last week the Minister could give no timeframe to complete the work which appears to be partly done, the contract has been cancelled and $143 million won’t be enough to complete the construction. The Minister should be sacked!