Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, March 28th, 2013 - 30 comments
Categories: activism, climate change, Conservation, democracy under attack, greens, Maori Issues, Mining, national/act government - Tags: catherine delahunty, nick smith
With the cuts to DOC, the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill (currently before the House) and the permits allowing the exploration for minerals on Schedule 4 land, we see the stealthy NAct MO in action: it uses small steps in diverse areas, often embedded in innocuous changes, that work together to dismantle rights and protections that the majority of Kiwis have supported for a long time.
This week we have seen the cuts to DOC that, as Bomber argues, are a step towards weakening DOC’s ability to safeguard conservation land, and thus open the way for mining of the conservation estate.
Government want to mine conservation land. Government face massive backlash. Government then sack lots of people paid to protect our conservation land. Government start to eye up mining our conservation land again.
Now, as reported by RNZ (at 7am this morning), we see that mining is now being allowed on protected Schedule 4 land.
The Government is allowing companies to prospect for coal and minerals on the country’s most protected land, despite its promise that no mining will take place.
After a huge public outcry in 2010, the Government backed down on plans to free up some Schedule Four conservation land for mining and vowed there would be no extraction.
Since then eight consents have been granted to prospect and explore for coal and other minerals in Coromandel in the North Island and the Paparoa National Park in the South Island.
No mining is taking place but anti-mining group Coromandel Watchdog and the Environmental Defence Society say the companies wouldn’t be looking if they did not think they could change the Government’s mind.
On Morning Report Gary Taylor, The Environmental Defence Society’s executive director, elaborates on the above print report at 6.36 am. At this point, Nick Smith was refusing to comment.
Nick Smith (of the forked tongue) was later on Nine-to-Noon, reversing his previous decision not to comment, defending the government position. He danced around the issue, sliding this way and that, and claiming that the sampling of coal and minerals on conservation land by mining companies was not a forerunner to mining in the area.
On today’s (Provisional) Order Paper for activities in the House, #4 is the 3rd reading of the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill. A summary of the proposals in the Bill includes:
Purpose statement: Include a purpose statement in the Act, promoting development through efficient allocation of rights to minerals, efficient regulation of those rights, and ensuring a fair financial return to the Crown…
The Introduction to the Bill shows that the government is aiming to weaken regulations and increase the amount of mining for minerals on Crown Land for revenue raising reasons:
The Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill as introduced proposes amendments to the Crown Minerals Act 1991, the Conservation Act 1987, the Continental Shelf Act 1964, the Reserves Act 1977, and the Wildlife Act 1953, which would provide for
- •the efficient allocation of rights to prospect, explore for, and mine Crown-owned minerals
- •the management and regulation of the exercise of those rights
- •a fair financial return to the Crown for its minerals.
The amendments we propose to the bill have the aims of encouraging the development of Crown-owned minerals so that they contribute more to New Zealand’s economic development; streamlining and simplifying the permitting regime where appropriate, making it better able to deal with future developments; and improving the co-ordination of regulatory agencies to contribute to stringent health and safety and environmental standards in exploration and production.
During the second reading of the Bill, Green MP Catherine Delahunty explained how unacceptable features are somewhat buried within less innocuous parts of the Bill.
It is also the Government’s response to the 30,000 people who marched down Queen Street and the more than 30,000, the 39,000, who made submissions against the mining of schedule 4. So the Government lost the media war. It was seen to have to back down on the issue, but, like any strategist, it had another plan. That plan was amendments to the Crown Minerals Act, and here we see them.
Many clauses are cause for concern, including those relating to the Treaty of Waitangi.
I move on now to some of the other aspects of the bill, including the issue of the purpose. The purpose of the bill is to facilitate and attract miners. It has abandoned all pretence of regulation and balance in favour of promotion and facilitation of one industry at the expense of others. The purpose lacks balance and leadership, and although a lot of the bill seems to be full of minor innocuous detail, you have got to look at the embedded drivers. You have got to look at what the bill is set up to achieve. What it is set up to achieve is to convince the public. Although it is appearing to protect schedule 4, in fact it changes how the levers of power are delivered through a range of mechanisms. The stated focus is for a more efficient allocation and a fair return to the Crown, but, overall, it is a fast tracking of the minerals and petroleum development within a weak context of the other values and rights that New Zealanders feel so strongly about. New Zealanders have expressed passionate opposition to petroleum and mining development on vulnerable land, and this is being ignored. It is being ignored and was ignored at the select committee.
The people of NZ showed they are opposed to mining of conservation land. They need to take notice and protest again. We need to attend to the debates on the third reading, likely to happen today, and let as many people as possible know what is going on.
[Update] The Bill has been moved down to #6 on the Final Order Paper for the House today.