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McAnulty gets fired up over forestry

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty giving his speech for the first reading of the Overseas Investment Forestry Amendment Bill. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

McAnulty fires shots at Nats over forestry

Grace Prior

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty gave a fiery speech for the first reading of the Overseas Investment Forestry Amendment Bill on Wednesday, accusing the National Party of doing “bugger all” for rural communities.

McAnulty came out swinging at National Party member David Bennett, who argued that the bill still allowed overseas investment to New Zealand land.

“Do not be fooled, they will use this going around the farming communities saying “look what we’ve done getting rid of the foreign exemption” – but it doesn’t actually get rid of the foreign exemption.

“There are three tests, there is the general benefit test, the farmland test, and the forestry test.”

He said the bill would remove the forestry test, but the investments would be moved to the general benefit test, not the “more stringent” farmland test.

McAnulty said without change, parts of the Wairarapa electorate like Pongaroa would continue to be converted to carbon forestry.

He said the settings of the Emissions Trading Scheme were to blame.

Treasury said the main proposal in the bill was to ensure that the conversion of land to production forestry by overseas investors continued to bring broad benefits to New Zealand when consent is required under the act.

It said the special forestry test, as mentioned by Bennett, had never applied to carbon forestry which must meet the act’s more stringent test; “and the bill does not change this position”.

McAnulty said there were three parts to addressing the carbon forestry issue.

“This bill is the first part, the second part is the consultation document that said, “how about we actually put a native forest instead of pine forest”, that was a result of this government and its rural MPs actually listening to their constituents.”

He said he wrote the policy for the Labour Party.

“I put it forward to the Labour Party, they adopted it, they are implementing it.”

McAnulty said the National Party had not taken any opportunity to ask any Minister about the carbon farming issue.

“Why? Because they do not care about this issue.”

“No policies, no questions, no general debate contributions.

“Laugh all you like, but you have done nothing,” McAnulty said to the National Party.

McAnulty said the bill had nothing to do with production forestry and putting it through was the right thing to do.

“Do not stand up and pretend that you’re fighting for farming communities and trying to stop farms being converted to carbon forests when you’ve done nothing about it.”

McAnulty said there was an announcement on the way for the third part of the process to fix the carbon forestry problem.

He said the announcement would include making carbon forestry a consentable activity for local government.

Putting the decision of where to plant trees back into the hands of local government would give communities a say, McAnulty said.

“How about we encourage farmers to work together find a band of land on their farm and a band of land on the other farm.”

He said the question was not why we should plant trees, it was where.

“The question is not why, we know why, we just need to figure out where we put them.

Now if we carried on like that lot [the National Party] wants to do, we would see rural communities decimated.”

The amendment bill has now moved to the select committee stage. Public submissions on the bill will be open for another 10 days.

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