It appears that the on-going efforts of the West Coast Timber Association and related interested parties seeking government assistance to the troubled timber industry on the West Coast may be about to bear fruit.
Credible sources have indicated that Dr Michael Cullen, Trevor Mallard (SOE minister), and Jim Anderton (Minister of Forestry) may be sympathetic towards a package that will assist the three worst affected West Coast mills in the interim, and a wider proposal for the remaining West Coast timber industry.
While the three mills looking to be compensated were not named, it is understood that Hokitika based WE Whiley & Co Ltd (forced to go into liquidation recently) is one of the three.
Details of the solutions/compensation package to be offered are not yet public; however it is understood that a meeting will be held at the Beehive on Monday which will largely determine the outcome.
If the solution package is passed it could be put into effect well before the election date – thereby erasing fears that government has been delaying the matter until the election.
Advisor to Whiley & Co owners Phillip and Anne Molloy, Mr Barry White, has reported that if the compensation package was sufficiently robust, then it would defuse the immediate crisis in the short term and open the door to a wider solution for the longer term. If however the package failed to be passed in time, or was inadequate, he advised that it would merely add fuel to the fire in a region already hurting.
Not least amongst those watching will be those who have already lost their jobs, those wondering how long their jobs will remain, and those business creditors around the country wondering if they will ever see the money owed to them.
Whatever the outcome of Monday’s meeting, the results will be of great interest to the industry on the Coast, to voters who have been watching this with interest, to the waiting media, and an opposition looking for an opportunity to pick up the baton if it gets dropped.