NZ Parliamentary Select Committee hears submissions on the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill. Forest and Bird submission follows those from Ecologic Organisation, Dr Peter Almond, and Brian Swale, campaigner for sustainable forest management. Claims of forest destruction, trashing forests and threats to survival of wildlife such as kiwi, kaka and yellow-head thoroughly refuted.
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verbal
submission.
Date: 13 June 2000
WRITTEN SUBMISSION


To the Local Government and Environment Select Committee

On the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill

Introduction

1. This submission is from        
       
     
      
      
Brian James Swale
140 Panorama Road
Christchurch 8008
tel 03 326 7447
email bj@caverock.net.nz

2. I wish to appear before the committee to speak to my submission. I can be contacted at the address above, as indicated.

3. My qualifications are B.Sc (NZ), MA (Forestry) (Oxon.).
I have considerable practical experience in many aspects of managing forests, having spent 32 years of my life engaged fulltime in that profession. I have a continuing strong interest in forestry, land use, sustainability, and government and the economy in general.

Summary

4. I oppose the intent of this Bill, because:-

4.1 The West Coast Accord is a soundly-based contract which was negotiated in good faith and to date only weak and invalid reasons have been advanced for rescinding it. The bases advanced for rescinding it need detailed examination.

4.2 Signatories should be able to expect other signatories to honour a contract.

4.3 Signatories to such a contact have an obligation to honour it.

4.4 I oppose the retrospective validation of this Bill.

4.5 Rescinding the West Coast Accord will have strong negative influences on the development and implementation of accords proposed under the much more important Bio What? proposals, because this government will be seen as being intrinsically incapable of keeping such agreements in good faith.

4.6 Future National Park status of some of this forest land; the proposed process for moving this land to National Parks is regrettable.

4.7 There is no need to change to status of the Crown forest land ( in the meaning of the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989) listed in the First Schedule to the Bill, because as far as the sustainable beech management plans are concerned, this government has already stopped the work.

4.8 Sustainability of Forest Management - a core element of this Accord. Sustainable forest management is something this country has to face up to and the Accord was the vehicle for delivering it to the West Coast. Therefore the Accord should be retained.

4.9 Sustainable management of the rimu forests at Saltwater and Okarito should be maintained in accordance with current legislation and the current forest management plan.

4.10 Economic and Social Aspects. The Accord is an important vehicle for improving the economic and social situation of the West Coast, and should be retained for that reason alone. The current handout is not a satisfactory alternative.

4.11 Implications for science - education, development and application. I raise concerns that the repeal of this Accord has deleterious implications for science.

4.12 The mandate that Labour has for this. I submit that this government has at best, a dubious mandate for enacting this Bill.

4.13 The example of Finland. An alternative, better way.

DISCUSSION IN DETAIL.

Part 1, Clause 5.

          SANCTITY OF CONTRACT

Intent of this Bill is a breach of sanctity of contract.
In my opinion is an abuse of Parliamentary power to break such a contract without demonstrating that something unlawful took place during the formation of the Accord.

          OBLIGATIONS TO HONOUR A CONTRACT

Signatories have every right to expect such a contract to be honoured.

Signatories have an obligation to honour such contracts, and it is noteworthy that one signatory, The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Inc, lauded recently by MP's for their actions in the campaign against sustainable forestry, have repeatedly breached that obligation.

          SIGNATORIES HAVE NOT HONOURED THIS CONTRACT

Fundamental to this Bill are the actions of this Labour government and many "conservation" NGO's in opposing the requirement under the Accord to implement sustainable forest management practices. They have dishonoured not only the Accord, but also their own reputations. By their actions they are known.

Much of this 'fight' is a continuation of similar actions 30 years ago, which culminated in the needless and destructive dismembering of the finest government department this country has ever had, the New Zealand Forest Service, which worked for the economic wellbeing of NZ and its strategic forest resource.

The Accord was intended to bring together all quarrelling parties and reach a consensus (which it did) from which constructive work could proceed - again, which it did until 9 September 1999.

Those carrying out the continuation of this vendetta have failed to see and understand that forest science has grown since the 1970's and that developments in techniques and understanding of forest processes have long ago left behind the single-minded approaches to land management that prevailed in state-subsidised agricultural development (for example, through drainage of swamps and clearing of indigenous forest) as well as the proposed optimisation of indigenous forest management for timber production that was proposed in the 1970's.

          RETROSPECTIVE VALIDATION OF BILL

Part 1, Clause 5. In my opinion it conflicts with natural justice to apply the repeal of the ending of the Accord retrospectively. People operating within the envelope of such a contract should at all times be able safely to expect the contract to apply within foreseeable periods including time past. This is especially so since the Crown initiated and participated willingly in this Accord.

BIO-WHAT IMPLICATIONS

          IMPLICATION OF THE CANCELLING per se OF THE ACCORD

Since the West Coast Accord is the vehicle for state-run sustainable good forest management, and since the technology developed for this was in the international vanguard of sustainable practice, repealing the Accord sets a bad precedent for other sustainability proposals that may eventuate under the Bio-What? proposals.

          IMPLICATIONS FOR PROPOSED NEW ACCORDS

Under the Bio-What? proposals, other, new, accords are envisaged. Since this government is proposing in bad faith to repeal the West Coast Accord, it is very likely that little credence will be attached to other accords - especially if Labour/Green/Alliance governments are in power. The use of this Bill as a legislative cudgel to enforce a breach of the contract entered into by the signatories of the Accord throws severe doubt on the integrity of New Zealand governments in respect of honouring contracts which a New Zealand government itself initiated.

One is reminded also of the unwarranted intervention of the TWC shareholding Ministers in respect of the Environment Court hearing of Resource Consent applications under the Resource Management Act 1991. This Act is now seen by New Zealanders, after many years of getting used to it, as an important means of subjecting land use proposals to critical scientific scrutiny. Labour, apparently until 9 September 1999, considered it a cornerstone law for environmental protection.

Again, take the instance of the long-established procedures for adding land to National Parks.

It seems to me that this Bill, additional to the intervention in the RMA hearing, are a repugnant misuse of Parliamentary procedure to ride rough-shod over good and established processes for what seem clearly to be political-power processes.

These precedents of using Parliamentary processes to attain politically favourable goals, at the expense of the well-being of New Zealand's unique flora and fauna, augur badly for future sustainability and conservation.

And all this takes place as an era dawns when the whole world (including NZ) is coming slowly to understand that it must live within its budget of fossil fuel, greenhouse gases, exploitable minerals etc, and the sustainable harvest and other use of sustainable renewable living resources - such as beech and rimu forests, and wild fish stocks.

Is it any wonder that New Zealand citizens accord their politicians the standing that they often do - in light of these kinds of action?

FUTURE NATIONAL PARK etc STATUS FOR PRESENT CROWN FOREST LAND

Part 2, Clause 7. There is a process of very long standing in respect of adding land to National Parks; a process that conservation groups consider essential for the maintenance of the National Parks Act. This is that no areas shall be added to National Parks without reference to the New Zealand Conservation Authority. Through the legal and administrative processes of this Authority, which test environmental processes, the integrity of the National Parks Act is maintained.

LAND STATUS

I submit that since this government has caused the beech management plans to stop for the moment, there is no need to change the status of the land on which the TWC forests sit.

This is especially so since matters flowing from the Bio What? enquiry are likely to cause enlightenment in respect of sustainability, and sustainable management of indigenous forests may well be regarded as it should be, in a more favourable light.

SUSTAINABILITY OF FOREST MANAGEMENT - A CORE ELEMENT OF THE ACCORD

Sustainability of everything we do and/or use in our lives is at the core of this.

The beech management plans are eminently sustainable, and the similar rimu sustainable management process is proven to be so.

The evidential papers prepared for the RMA hearing show this in respect of the beech.

They are available on the internet as well as on paper.

Some papers such as a contract Critique prepared for DOC, and other publications such as the Landcare Growth model, seem to demonstrate that what TWC proposed was not sustainable. However, expert scientific examination of these detractors has shown their assertions to be erroneous. The sustainability is still good.

Many detractors of the TWC plans and the Accord say and write that the 98,000 hectares of the TWC estate are habitat essential to the survival of threatened wildlife. This assertion is a gross mis-representation of the situation because

        a) the 98,000 ha is the rump-end 10% of forest left over after the other 90% of much better habitat was set aside for DOC under the Accord.
        b) as several of New Zealand's best wildlife scientists have testified, the sustainable management proposed by TWC did not pose any threat to the wildlife already under severe threat from introduces pests and other influences currently at work.
People repeatedly write and say, and the speech in Parliament by Ms Jeanette Fitzsimmons on 18 May was an excellent example of this;

- that the sustainable harvesting (of just HALF (at any one 15-year cycle) of the rimu and beech trees that are identified as being about to die soon), equates to destruction of the forests;

That is nothing less than mischievous misrepresentation of the truth. The (harvested) trees are going to die soon anyway, and in either case will be replaced by seedlings. More surely under TWC because TWC plants seedlings if natural regeneration fails. This is the never-ending story of all natural forests - nothing stays the same and there is an endless cycle of death and new life replacing what dies. Sustainable forestry as practiced in the rimu forest and proposed for the beech, merely intercepts some of the soon-to-die.

- Many so-called environmentalists talk about the forests under sustainable forestry being 'trashed', 'wasted' and so on.

Such descriptions are blatant falsehoods, if by these words they mean that the forests are clearfelled, or logged so heavily that little of forest structure remains, or indeed that any significant damage is done. The forests under sustainable forestry processes are left very nearly untouched, and the whole fabric of their structure is all there still for the wildlife to live in and for people to enjoy. Tourism can co-exist with sustainably managed forests.

- In the first paragraph of her 18 May speech to Parliament, Ms Fitzsimmons celebrates the end to logging of "old growth native forests", and I point out that 58% by area of the beech forests TWC sought Resource Consents for the management of, are NOT "old growth forests" but what TWC termed "recovery forests". That is, they are regrowth from one kind or other of previous human intervention. They do, incidentally, clearly demonstrate the vigorous ability of these beech forests to regenerate themselves.

- that the habitat of the wildlife is being irreparably and seriously destroyed or damaged; this is also untrue.

Any person who has read the scientific papers prepared for the Resource Consent hearings cancelled by Labour will quickly learn that national and international experts in forests and wildlife were ready, with evidence, to testify that the wildlife habitat was not at such risk.

One would hope that parliamentarians would have at least skimmed through these papers. Again, they are available on the Internet

(see http://homepages.caverock.net.nz/~bj/beech/

and

http://www.fore.canterbury.ac.nz/euan/beech/beech.htm

and elsewhere.

In her 18 May speech to Parliament, Ms Fitzsimmons said "We have grown rich off the proceeds of forests we did not plant or manage. It was a once-only windfall gain." and above that she said that sustainable forestry "tends to turn the forest into something like a plantation", and also "We have lost most of our forests. Especially our lowland forests."

The Accord is the vehicle for managing forests "for gain" for ever (that is what "sustainable management in perpetuity" means), not a once only gain; not turning them into anything like plantations, and not, as implied, causing more to be lost. The gain possible is not only timber harvest, but enhanced wildlife, plant-life and tourism potential. Everybody, including the forests, would win.

It will probably come out in the Bio What? exercise that conservation of resources, sustainable management of self-renewable resources (as with these forests), and avoiding waste and pollution are major challenges about to confront every nation on this globe, New Zealand included.

The sustainable forestry management plans of TWC were world-class examples of the kind on management of natural resources that the whole world has to consider. The West Coast Accord was a vehicle for the delivery of a vital portion of that to New Zealand.

It is illogical and incomprehensible that a responsible government should set itself down the path to undo that Accord and the integral sustainable beech forestry plans.

The statements by Ministers that it was a "value judgement" have failed to adequately demonstrate what honest and logical values were taken into account when coming to that judgement.

RIMU MATTERS

The sustainable management of the 9,800 hectares of Saltwater and Okarito forests has been hailed by international campaigners and advocates of sustainable management as being one of the most perfect examples of this practice in the world.

Not only is the health of the forest trees being improved, but so too are the wildlife populations - especially by comparison with those of the National Parks next door.

Valuable produce is being provided for the human component of New Zealand, and the forest sustains no harm, as evidenced by the scientific publications of Ian James, Dr David Norton, and others.

I find it highly offensive that Ms Fitzsimmons can state, as she did in Parliament on 18 May, quoting somebody else
> "I was disturbed today to hear that rimu logging may continue for eight more years.
> This would be more devastating to the environment than 800 years of sustainable
> beech logging. Rimu are the most important single component of the forest
> ecosystem to many species of birds and other animals."
with the inference being that the rimu forests are being destroyed, not just for today but for the next 800 years.

Well, maybe this person was disturbed, but I suggest that it was a state of mind resulting more from ignorance, than from an understanding of the processes taking place and the ecological status of the trees being removed.

Rimu are undoubtedly very important to components of the wildlife, but taking just HALF of the dying rimu at wide time intervals (during which period the other rimu seedlings and trees grow and become older) is not devastating, clearfelling, or removing this vital component. The forest remains essentially intact in the process and additional TWC actions have, audit has proved, greatly enhanced wildlife populations.

I have condemned mis-information elsewhere in this submission. I do so again.

Further, a significant part of these forests has already been logged under much older, damaging regimes. As a consequence, these forests ARE NOT high quality forest suitable for addition to a National Park.

THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ARGUMENT

It has been common during the last few months to hear expressions like this one from Ms Eugenie Sage of Forest and Bird (talk at Canterbury University on 2 June 2000) "we don't believe there's any economic, social or other needs for the beech scheme or for continued rimu logging.", and I believe that I have heard this also from government politicians.

To this I retort that such expressions are dogmatic nonsense.

The sustainable beech management plans - which rely on the provisions of the West Coast Accord - would return to the West Coast AT LEAST $ 32 million per year, for ever. More, actually, as continued availability of the beech timber relative to that of other fine woods internationally improved. The rimu adds more. Nothing has turned up to match that sustainable income.

The fact that the West Coast has lower per caput incomes than the rest of New Zealand, and that a condition of businesses accepting beech wood for processing were REQUIRED to set up factories on the West Coast illustrates the economic need and that under the Accord it could be met. It is a given that there is a good market for beech and rimu timber products.

Low incomes and few jobs equate to above-average social needs due to deprivation. Recently, I heard the Buller District mayor speaking on National radio describing the high youth suicide rate on the Coast, the low employment prospects, the high dependence of families on benefits of one form or other, and the flight of the district youth from the West Coast. Vibrant, healthy societies do not have these characteristics.

Since the sustainable beech management proposals enabled under the West Coast Accord would provide jobs - skilled jobs, and hope for families, this is an excellent argument for retaining the Accord for use in a period when there is a better climate of understanding about sustainable use of natural resources.
Since the sustainably managed forests are left in enhanced condition, they remain as excellent tourist attractions. However, as far as incomes are concerned, it is widely acknowledged that employment in the tourist industry is predominantly seasonal, low-skill, and low-income. Especially on the West Coast.

IMPLICATIONS FOR SCIENCE - EDUCATION, DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATION

The way this whole matter has been handled by Labour and associated organisations from the middle of 1999 right to the present and including through this Bill, sends negative and discouraging signals to science and those who would develop and apply it - especially in the increasingly important field of knowledge about the environment.

In this regard I will confine my comments to forestry, concentrating on indigenous forest management.

For endeavours to succeed, they do best if the number of people - especially those of exceptional vigour, knowledge and intelligence - exceeds a certain "critical mass" or number in a group who can mutually inspire and encourage each other to achieve better. The forest management staff of Timberlands are the last "hands-on" unit in New Zealand (outside universities - who are less "hands-on") with the critical mass to develop and apply highly developed and developing management techniques to our indigenous forests. They could have this critical mass only because they had available an adequately large area of forest within which to apply their skills.

The world-renowned Forest Research Institute at Rotorua has quit the field and disposed of land they performed such research on.

There are highly skilled and practical academics at the Canterbury University School of Forestry who teach the skills, but they need places to take their students in order to pass on field skills and demonstrate how their knowledge applies to real situations. They themselves are not different from the rest of us - they also need practice through following the old dictum "use it or lose it".

Other scientists in centres elsewhere in New Zealand contributed to the knowledge base available to Timberlands.

It is a matter of extreme national concern that the endeavour common to the scientists I refer to - the endeavour of sustainable indigenous forest management in state indigenous forests - has been subject to the denial of exposure of science to the New Zealand public (in the cancelled Resource Consent hearings), and now through the proposed repeal of the West Coast Accord will lose the vehicle for continuation.

I imagine that those "conservationists" noting this probably think "good riddance - glad to see the back of you" about those with forestry skills departing the indigenous forest scene and New Zealand; but I point out again that as New Zealand along with the rest of the world must come to live within its environmental budget, this country will need those people, and soon.

I add also that the skilled management being put into effect by Timberlands' skilled staff under the expert guidance of Mr Kit Richards was observed admiringly by environment managers from other countries, who also are observing what else has happened in relation to this and is taking place right now.

THE MANDATE THAT LABOUR HAS FOR THIS

It is well known that the "anti-sustainable forestry" campaign during the last parliamentary election was one of the dirtiest for some time. Throughout New Zealand, but especially in Auckland and other northern urban and peri-urban places, the amount of mis-information and deception was at high levels. It has not ceased since, as evidenced by speeches, Press Releases and the like released by such as NFA and Forest and Bird, acknowledged accomplices of Labour/Green alliance.

The question has to be asked; is a mandate which is based on false evidence, a real mandate?

In my opinion, it is not, therefore this government has but a dubious mandate to enact this Bill.

THE EXAMPLE OF FINLAND

It has been fairly common of recent months to hold up for observation the nations of Eire and Finland as pertinent examples for New Zealand. There isn't the space to say much about that here, other than to observe that New Zealand seems to perpetually sell its prime productive assets to overseas companies (especially timber-related to Norway!) and Finland does not; and to point out that Finland DOES manage its vast indigenous forests sustainably. Fully sustainably, and audited to ensure that it does. The economic benefits it obtains from this are huge.

The West Coast Accord created the appropriate legal climate for such an example to be attained in New Zealand.

Dr Graham Whyte has written a succinct article on this, and it is easily available on the internet for those who would be updated on this example; at

http://homepages.caverock.net.nz/~bj/beech/pressrel/press12.htm
..................................................................................................................................
I thank the Committee for its attention.
 

 

Verbal submission to Select Committee.


12 July 2000

Thank you for hearing my submission.

Firstly, I wish to apologise to Ms Fitzsimons for consistently mis-spelling her name in my written submission. I know it can be irritating and even offensive to have this happen. It was an accidental oversight, and I apologise.

Secondly, I notice that the first part of paragraph one of page 8 of my written submission has not printed as intended - some is missing due to faulty software.

I supply a replacement page 8 here.

Discussion:

The 6 points I wish to run over this afternoon relate to the messages this Bill gives to New Zealanders about:-
  • the sanctity of contract
  • preservation - or sustainable conservation?
  • logging, sustainable logging or sustainable forestry?
  • sustainable resource use
  • the acceptability of scientific knowledge and professionalism in sustainable resource management
  • the acceptability of scientific knowledge and expertise in politics
Sanctity of contract.

The Accord is a contract.

I reiterate what I wrote in pages 2 and 3 of my submission about sanctity of contract, obligation to honour a contract and so on; and the definitely negative implications for proposed new accords.

The binding nature of a contract is a significant part of the kind of civilised society that we hope to live in. A person's word is their bond, and especially when in writing.

For the highest body in the country, through this proposed action, to set such a poor example to citizens, sends a signal that they might do similarly, and in my opinion also says something about the ethical values of the initiators.

Does this committee really want to go down that road?

Preservation - or sustainable conservation?

Preservation might work, as a concept and practice, where a complete ecological system of plants and animals has come under no new outside influences in the last 500 years or so.

There is no significant part of New Zealand, to my knowledge, to which that applies.

Preservation cannot work because the newer animals and plants influences destroy some of what it is intended to protect, despite the shutting-out of human activity.

Many people in the past have drawn attention to the failure of preservation or protection. There is an example from Jack Holloway, eminent ecologist, in this 1982 publication, where he draws attention to the extermination of rata and kamahi trees on steep land by possums in South Westland. Those trees held the land together.

In respect of birds, recently it has been revealed that the little rifleman is no longer to be found on the east of the main divide, with little doubt the result of stoats feeding on them.

Sustainable conservation, which does not preclude humans benefiting, can provide the funds and the infrastructure to actively benefit such wild life which has suffered from the failure of so-called protection.

Many people who favour locking-up of forests as protection have the naive belief that forests are unchanging, and that removing the human factor will ensure the saving of the forest. The opposite applies. Forests are not static, but dynamic, and their parts are always dying and may regenerate. Thus the very fabric of the forest is always changing. The exotic elements now present add another dimension to this that requires human intervention for the sake of the rest.

In addition, West Coast forests are constantly subject to severe damage due to earthquake and storms, but, as their present existence shows, have the resilience to recover.

I submit that this Bill will not only do nothing to protect forests and benefit wildlife, but the reverse.

To pass this Bill will be yet another action by this government to sacrifice success and reward failure.

Logging, sustainable logging or sustainable forest management?

The impetus for this Bill arises from a wish by the originators to remove from state indigenous forests, all and any logging activity, drawing their inspiration largely from actions of 30 years ago.

Knowledge of ecology, and the objectives of forest professionals have advanced and improved since those times.

Logging is a name for the activity of taking the trunks of trees out of forests for human use.

Sustainable logging, in my opinion, is largely a fabrication of the print and electronic media of the 1990's, reflecting their inability to grasp and communicate more complicated and pertinent ideas to their readers. It focuses on just the removal of logs.

Sustainable forest management, on the other hand, is an integrated package of active and beneficial consideration of all elements of an ecosystem. These days, as demonstrated by Timberlands and placed on record not only by them but also in the evidential papers prepared for the Resource Consent hearings that were prematurely stopped, sustainable forest management uses the best skills of other scientific and other disciplines - as well as logging - to provide results for the benefit of people and wildlife. Logging is but one skill among many.

In defining objectives for the management of natural forest in an international context, Professor Bruenig (1996), whose ideas Timberlands espoused, concluded:

"Management should aim at forest structures which keep the rainforest ecosystem as robust, elastic, versatile, adaptable, resistant, resilient and tolerant as possible; in natural forest, canopy openings should be kept within the limits of natural gap formation; stand and soil damage must be minimised; felling cycles must be sufficiently long, and tree marking so designed, that a selection forest canopy structure is maintained without, or with very little, silvicultural manipulation.

The basic principle is to mimic nature as closely as possible to make profitable use of the natural ecosystem dynamics and adaptability, and reduce costs and risks.

Management systems must be multi-use orientated, economically viable and socially acceptable, which means high biological and economic diversity, adapted to the site. . . . . . ."

I submit that if this committee should realise this, they will understand that there is no need for this Bill.

Sustainable resource use - including import substitution.

There is not time to elaborate this theme much, but I want to at least draw the attention of the committee to these points.

Internationally as well as locally, there is an upswelling drive to make people aware, once more since the Club of Rome tried to do so in the 1970's, that non-renewable resources are finite, that the ecology of the world has limits in its ability to buffer against pollution, and that we must all learn to live in a more sustainable way.

The sustainable forest management proposals of Timberlands are an outstanding example of sustainable resource use, where the main energy input comes direct from the sun, working to produce timber through photosynthesis. We can have no influence on that energy source.

What they planned to do, not only worked to provide a high-value product in a sustainable way, but it showed the world how to do it, and it would work to make significant reductions in our Balance -of-Payments problem.

Analysis of indigenous log production shows that there is a steady reduction. It is matched by a steady increase in imports of logs from overseas.

Why?

Simply because the native beech and rimu timbers - which Timberlands can provide in a sustainable way - possess physical properties and other characteristics which other timbers grown in New Zealand cannot. If we are to import them, that costs.

If the items are not to be made of wood, but instead from aluminium, glass, plastic, or other substance; then I submit that most of these are more highly energy consumptive than indigenous wood.

The acceptability of scientific knowledge and professionalism in sustainable resource management.

There is, world-wide, increasing expertise and knowledge about sustainable resource management including for forests. It is fashionable in the popular media and in politics to deny the existence of effective sustainable management.

In this era of the so-called "knowledge economy" and with increasing emphasis on sustainability, this expertise must be accepted.

This Bill does the opposite.

The acceptability of scientific knowledge and expertise in politics, versus dogma and rhetoric.

Timberlands West Coast Limited has an Internet web-site, providing a resource and record of their plans for public information, especially for the call for in 1998 for pubic submissions on their sustainable management proposals.

Some of you will also know that small programs counting visitor numbers can be placed on web-pages.

New Zealander household ownership of computers and use of the Internet is reportedly one of the highest in the world.

So, TWC spent information dollars in placing information on the internet, sharing their scientific knowledge of the forests and wildlife there, rather than print it on paper. There is a wealth of information there.

Now, in hindsight, they must wonder about this decision: do New Zealanders go to the internet for real information? Do they want information at all that requires some effort and thought? Should they have gone the way of the printed page?

I understand there were about ten thousand submissions in 1998.

The number of visitors to the Timberlands webpages was perhaps just as surprising.

I understand it was about 38. Two of those were me.

Where then, did the New Zealand public obtain their information for their submissions? What about the information prior to the last election.

I have seen the very many web-pages put up by Native Forest Action and Forest and Bird, their placards posted on walls and power-poles around this city. They are characterised by caricature, misrepresentation, and innuendo about the nature of the Timberlands proposals. Forest and Bird publications do likewise.

I feel sure that many of the dedicated submitters obtained their so-called information from these misleading sources.

I find it appalling and distressing to see such repudiation of science, and glorification of misinformation, repeated and so evident in the statements of some MP's, Ministers, and as the basis of this Bill.

Now is the time for objective policy-making, not political expediency.

Now, when the "knowledge economy" is being promoted for young people - as it should be - it is reprehensible to promulgate a Bill such as this which is based on anti-knowledge.