The Conservation Minister, Tim Groser is quoted today:
“If you can extract wealth from that [conservation land], that’s what we should do.”
and goes on to label any opposition to this clear intent as ‘emotional hysteria’.
While it was obvious that Brownlee was indulging in dishonest double-speak with his ‘stocktake’ earlier this week; we now have a second senior Minister, the minister responsible for advocating conservation for God’s sake, now flatly confirming that if they can make a buck from it, then it’s up for sale.
If there is one thing that become obvious in the last few days, well to me at least, is that what I fondly imagined were well protected places like our National Parks, are in fact highly vulnerable to exploitation by the mining industry. There do not appear to be any effective legislative barriers to mining at all.
Groser said the standard consultation provisions of the Resource Management Act would apply.
This would be the same RMA National is already committed to watering down? The same ‘standard consultation provisions’ that they have promised to greatly curtail?
However, his office later confirmed DOC controlled only access to mining sites, while the Minister of Energy and Resources granted permits to prospect, explore or mine.
So in the final analysis, mining in our National Parks is a decision made in a Ministers office, with no binding accountability to Parliament or the public.
Environment and Conservation Organisations spokesman Barry Weeber said miners enjoyed special status and were not subject to the usual provisions that applied to other activities on conservation land.
The only real safeguards were the prohibitions on surface activity under the fourth schedule of the Crown Minerals Act, which did not prevent mining in conservation parks, marine mammal sanctuaries, or in world heritage areas.
Given that any mine, underground, open cast, mineral or lignite, demands at the very least a road access.. the only effective safeguard from conservation perspective is that the Department of Conservation might choose to object to it. The same department whose Minister is now publically committed to not objecting.
A few days ago it was a ‘stocktake’, now its ‘small discrete’ mines with suitable protections…but ultimately the upper limit of exploitiation is simply what the Minister of Energy will approve… and this govt is telling us that if it’s there, then it should be dug up and sold.