The devastating effects of storm damage in Northland New Zealand continues to have a significant and lasting effect on forest contracting businesses, as infrastructure repairs have been delayed in the far North. Sources: Timberbiz, Scoop NZ
“Our members in forest harvesting, tree-planting, and log transport are still suffering directly from the road closures and detours which makes business near impossible to carry on with,” said contractors’ association spokesman, John Stulen.
“It’s a bad look on the government’s part, with their lack of ability to provide for industry. Road access and logging loads are still being severely limited.
“Our forest-based businesses are just as important to the export economy as farming in key regions like Northland.
“We’d like to see Steven Joyce, as Minister of Economic Development and Small Business, get out to see the continuing effect on our members’ businesses actually.” Mr Stulen said that if he saw how much it was hurting small forestry businesses first hand, there might be more understanding of the need to fix the roads faster.
He said that at the very least, there should be some coordinated government department relief for forestry businesses who have to continue to make payments for road user charges, GST and PAYE, even though their own cashflows have been severely impacted by the damage caused to infrastructure.
According to Mr Stulen everyone pays the same road user charges nationwide, but his members in the north are disadvantaged by having a weak roading network.
“We all saw the Minister for Primary Industries last week, expressing his support for affected farmers, but did anyone pay attention to struggling forest contractors? Not that any of our members saw, that’s for sure,” said Mr Stulen.
Forestry in Northland continues to be one of the key growth areas for export opportunities according to the contractors’ association, FICA, but the chance of surviving the combined effect of export price drops and inferior infrastructure means, in the future, there may not be very many forest contractors able to carry on with business as usual.