Labour questions 'missing' Gisborne forestry mill

Labour questions 'missing' Gisborne forestry mill

Labour will ask the Auditor-General to look into a Malaysian forestry company failing to build a processing plant as promised 20 years ago.

Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash says the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved Hikurangi Forest Farms buying more than 33,000 hectares of Gisborne land in 1996. He says it was "in a large part" based on their assurance to build a state-of-the-art processing plant.

"That was 20 years ago and not a sod of earth has been turned. And more sensitive land purchases were made in 2006 and 2007 with the same promise. This shows how weak the enforcement from the OIO is."

Prime Sawmill, which operates in the area, has been denied logs to process and the company is instead exporting the logs overseas "without a cent of valued being added or a single job created".

The mill would pay export-equivalent prices for the wood.

Mr Nash says he will ask the Auditor-General to investigate the broken promises, saying they need to be held accountable.