NZ politicians woo timber industry vote

23 March 2014

New Zealand’s timber industry has become the focus of political point-scoring as the country’s general election on September 20 approaches.

At last week's industry conference, Forestwood, the opposition Labour Party promised tax breaks for wood processors and a pro-wood procurement policy for government-funded buildings up to four storeys high. Under the policy government departments would have to "explain" why they chose other materials when there was a wood option.

The proposal has the backing of one of New Zealand's largest privately-owned timber companies, Red Stag, which has called on all political parties to support a pro-wood policy.

Chief executive and chairman Marty Verry said such a policy would encourage industry investment of up to NZ$500m, including a NZ$120m capital investment in upgrading its own plant.

Labour would also reintroduce research and development tax credits and ensure public science worked to further develop wood-plastic composites.

The Green Party told the conference it would offer a NZ$1m prize for the first company to build a 10-storey structural timber building.