ACT Deputy Leader Hon Ken Shirley today slammed Labour Leader Helen Clark for her betrayal of the West Coast Forest Accord that has today opened a major split in Labour's ranks.
"With the announcement of its forestry policy today the Labour Party has turned its back on the people of the West Coast which Helen Clark had pledged to support.
"Labour's policy to end all production forestry from Crown owned indigenous forest would be devastating for the West Coast if Labour ever became the Government.
"This is a very serious u-turn by Helen Clark. It shows that the Labour Leader cannot be trusted to keep her word. In 1990 she pledged to uphold the West Coast Accord. She has today openly reneged upon that pledge and betrayed the people of the West Coast.
"The Accord placed 80% of the West Coast under DOC stewardship or National Park including the formation of the Paparoa National Park. The deal always that 5% of the land area would be available for sustainable forest management.
"Timberlands beech logging scheme is a world leading example of ecologically based sustainable forestry management.
"Jim Sutton's resignation as Labour's Forestry Spokesman in disgust over Labour's extremist policy is bitter blow to the Party. Jim Sutton is the only Labour MP who has shown any empathy with rural and provincial New Zealand. His resignation also makes it extremely difficult for Labour's West Coast MP Damien O'Connor. Mr O'Connor cannot turn his back on the Coast and support Labour's forestry policy. He must take a stand against it.
"Labour has proved again today that they are a party of unionists, school teachers and academic ideologues. They have nothing to offer the people of rural New Zealand and today's policy shows they aren't even going to try. They are more worried about appealing to city people who have never set foot in a West Coast Forest.
"I am spending the next week on the Coast and ACT's commitment to the West Coast Accord and the Timberlands Beech Scheme will be high on the agenda. ACT is the only Party that has stood unequivocally behind the people of the West Coast on this issue. In a centre right Government we would ensure National sticks to its word too," said Ken Shirley.