The One Billion Trees Project is woefully behind target even though a quarter of the billion dollar Provincial Growth Fund is being spent on it, National Party Spokesperson for Forestry Alastair Scott says.
“Broken election promises, disorganisation and policy incompetence was the overarching theme in today’s Forestry Estimates Hearing where Forestry Minister Shane Jones turned up and failed to explain away the mess he’s making.
“The Government says it has secured only 1000 hectares to plant 1 million trees this planting season, from a budget of $245 million allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund for forestry.
“The Minister also said he believes pine is the future of forestry in New Zealand, as natives can’t play an effective role in carbon sequestration and climate change goals, which will bitterly disappoint his Green party colleagues.
“Only 13 per cent of trees planted to date under the One Billion Trees project have been native.
“The Minister’s coalition colleagues use the words ‘right trees in the right places’, but there is no evidence to say that any thought or scrutiny is going into the One Billion Tree planting process.
“We all want healthy, diverse forests, strong logging and local wood processing industries and progress on reducing greenhouse gases. But these things don’t happen by chance. It takes responsible policy mechanisms, it takes a plan and it takes hard work – not qualities the Minister is known for.
“All this money, very little output or strategy. This is a classic case of lost opportunity for the Forestry Industry,” Mr Scott says.
MP for Wairarapa, Alastair Scott is encouraging farmers within the Wairarapa electorate to attend this week’s Ministry of Primary Industries meeting in Pahiatua.
“Following last week’s confirmation a farm near Pahiatua has been infected with the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, MPI has confirmed it will be holding a public information meeting on Thursday.
“I’d encourage as many people as possible to take this opportunity to ask questions of MPI, particularly around preventative and containment measures, signs of the infection to look out for, next steps and - perhaps most importantly - compensation options and how to apply for it.
“MPI officials told MPs at Parliament last week they are resourced to sit down with farmers and guide them through the process and, again, I’d encourage farmers to take that opportunity.
“The line Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor are running that MPI has been under resourced is patently untrue. The Chief Operating Officer himself has said publicly that MPI was more than prepared for an incursion of this scale.
“Expert advice is to limit livestock movements and ensure boundary fences are secure. It’s important that everyone maintains up-to-date NAIT and animal movement records. People working between properties need to clean their boots and farm equipment.
“I, like everyone else, want Damien O’Connor to hurry up and make a decision about the next steps. Farmers need clarity around whether the Government will fund a response for full eradication or whether the industry will need to transition towards long term management of the disease,” Mr Scott says.
The MPI meeting will be held at the St Peter’s Anglican Church hall at 2pm.
After so much fanfare and expectation-raising Shane Jones’ announcement today is extremely disappointing, National’s Forestry spokesperson Alastair Scott says.
“Mr Jones jetted in to Rotorua today to do nothing but announce yet another Ministerial advisory group,” Mr Scott says.
“I feel for this group. They’ve been tasked with working out how to fulfil Mr Jones’ promise to plant one billion trees over the next ten years which, as we all know, is a pipedream.
“Typically, 50,000 trees are planted across New Zealand each year by industry and enterprise so half the job’s already being done for him – at least though, there will something for his new website planting counter to show.
“Forestry is a significant part of the New Zealand economy. In my Wairarapa electorate planting is at capacity – huge planting programmes are undertaken each year for woodlots, to tackle erosion, support environmental objectives as well as the thriving honey industry.
“Mr Jones has had nine months to answer basic questions – where are the seedlings coming from, who is going to plant them and where will they be planted. Instead of doing the work himself, he’s farmed it out to yet more bureaucrats.
“Prior to this announcement I’d really hoped that, for the sake of the industry, there’d be some clarity around work programmes and the like.
“Instead, all we get is a photo op,” Mr Scott says.
It’s time for the Government to step up and give the Forestry industry some much needed certainty around its strategy for the future, National’s Forestry spokesperson Alastair Scott says.
“Ahead of opening the new NZ Forestry Service in Rotorua tomorrow, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Forestry Shane Jones have set big expectations the industry will finally get some much-needed information about how the Government plans to grow the Forestry Industry.
“The industry is still keenly awaiting the proposed National Forestry Strategy that they promised in the election,” Mr Scott says.
“There are three big questions that need answers; where are the seedlings coming from, where are the trees going to be planted and who is going to plant them?
“The Minister has had over six months in the job and we have still seen no actual detail on how the Government plans to boost the sector.
“This Government is rich in rhetoric but is failing to deliver change or a strategy to achieve the tree planting target.
“The Forestry sector has seen no new policies or schemes announced, no substantial financial injection to date and the Minister announced two weeks ago that he has only just planted the first tree in the One Billion Trees planting programme.
“It’s time for the Minister to start delivering some certainty to the industry. Let’s hope we see some detail announced on Friday,” Mr Scott says.
A Bill to bolster Police’s ability to tackle drug driving has been lodged as a Members Bill by National MP for Wairarapa Alastair Scott.
“Too many fatal crashes involving drugs have highlighted the need to crack down on those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of illegal substances,” Mr Scott says.
“That’s why I’ve lodged the Land Transport (Random Oral Fluid Testing) Amendment Bill to establish an effective Police roadside testing regime to better deal with drug driving.
“Similar to mobile random breath testing for alcohol, drivers may be stopped by a Police officer at anytime, anywhere in the country and be tested for cannabis, MDMA and methamphetamine.
“At a time where the roads are heavy with traffic from holidaymakers returning home and tourists making the most of the New Zealand summer, the risk of drug-impaired drivers causing serious injury or fatal crashes increases significantly.
“The current law doesn’t do enough to deter drug-impaired people from getting behind the wheel – Police must have good cause to suspect that a driver is impaired by drugs before requiring them to stop and take a behavioural test, like walking heel to toe in a straight line.
“Police roadside testing is a much stronger and more visible drug driving enforcement measure which will help deter people from driving while under the influence of drugs. It will also improve Police’s ability to catch those who do before they cause a crash.
“With advances in technology over recent years making roadside testing for drugs much more practical, now is the right time to introduce it.
“My Bill will help to ensure greater road safety and reduce the number of crashes caused by drug driving. I look forward to it being pulled from the ballot.”
As we launch into 2017 and what will be another busy year, we can have confidence New Zealand is on the right track.Read more