Forestry spokesperson Richard Prosser said the government’s blind adherence to “dumb, unworkable, and disproven” free-market ideology was costing New Zealand jobs and foreign exchange, as sawmills struggle to source logs in the face of demand from overseas processors.

His comments follow the announcement that Southern Cross Forest Products is closing its mill in Balclutha, Otago, with the loss of 79 jobs. The company went into administration seven weeks ago.

New Zealand First wants a set domestic price for logs to ensure local sawmills can maintain supply, providing jobs and value-added products for export.

“Foreign buyers aren’t grabbing shiploads of logs from New Zealand because they’re buildings lots of log cabins,” said Mr Prosser.

“They want logs to turn them into sawn timber, plywood, and MDF, keeping their people employed and earning the value-added foreign exchange which New Zealand should be earning.”