100% Pure Opencast

Written By: - Date published: 7:26 pm, August 27th, 2009 - 54 comments
Categories: Environment, john key - Tags:

This must be Minister of Tourism John Key’s idea of a sick joke. Letting Gerry Brownlee run rampant and declare NZ National Parks are now open for mining will not only destroy our natural heritage, but seriously harm our tourist industry.

What a legacy to leave for the first PM to take on Tourism portfolio. You’ve got to wonder, did Key even really want tourism or was it just an image thing? Well there’s your image below Mr Key.

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54 comments on “100% Pure Opencast”

  1. Michael Foxglove 1

    We shouldn’t act so surprised. The demands of capitalism are not only inherently opposed to workers’ interests, but also to a sustainable environment. Key is behaving like the typical capitalist – acting for profit, while ignoring any other measure.

    These National Party fools don’t see the value in anything that’s not economic, and that is why they’re so bloody dangerous. They need to go!

    • logie97 1.1

      I find it remarkable that the member for Elim has this portfolio. Brownlee and energy just don’t go together. The man appears to get exhausted just standing up in the house. I bet he never gets out into the wilderness – rather experiencing it via the screentest on Freeview. Actually it’s hard to imagine many of this current administration enjoying the Great Outdoors and perhaps that’s why they are prepared to hive it off to the highest bidder.

  2. I am afraid that I am not surprised. With cold efficiency the nats are undermining all sorts of environmental policies. Their decision making process seems to be if a Greenie supports they will oppose.

    What happened to the blue green approach? So much for clean and green …

    • Tigger 2.1

      I am surprised – but only at how quickly the ‘up with people and the planet’ mask slipped from National’s face. I figured they’d wait at least a year…but I guess capitalism doesn’t like to be kept waiting…

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    NACT are owned by the corporations. We know that so we shouldn’t be surprised when they go around giving their business mates good deals at the expense of everyone else.

  4. i am surprised, shocked and very pissed off – this just will not happen. The right have dropped all the bullshit now and their colours are flying… for their foreign masters. FFS if the left and maori don’t work together to fight this then we deserve to lose.

  5. Coal mining in our National Parks – what a fucking disgrace that would be!

    • spot 5.1

      Pike River and Happy Valley anyone.

      Is this a case of “no increases in mining from here”, or a new policy from Labour?

      • George D 5.1.1

        spot, I think he was being ironic, and referring to the stench of hypocrisy that emanates from the New Zealand Labour Party, and their supporters on this blog.

  6. Mike 6

    Drill baby drill!

  7. Armchair Critic 7

    Suddenly Coromandel doesn’t look like a safe electorate for National

  8. greenfly 8

    Brash!

  9. Marty G 9

    Jesus Christ. I mean there’s bad and then there’s comic book evil villain bad.

    This is the kind of thing that could be a big issue too. they’ll be hoping to get away with it in the honeymoon but when the applications come in and communities see their parks are going to be torn up, it’ll screw them in some crucial electorates

    • Lew 9.1

      there’s bad and then there’s comic book evil villain bad.

      That’s a cracking line, Marty, I hope David Parker and Metiria Turei pick it up.

      L

  10. Michael Foxglove 10

    Good call Marty G. It really is the stuff perpetuated by the evil polluters in Captain Planet.

  11. gingercrush 11

    Oh wow The Standard that is always complaining about how poor New Zealanders are and how there is a lack of jobs is complaining about min ing resources of over 100 billion dollars. Of course you lot make ludicrous claims about how the National Parks will be destroyed. Its nonsense.

    I would have thought jobs would be important to you lot. But its only jobs that involves wasting money on social causes. As for your ludicrous claims about how this will affect crucial electorates. Absolute bullshit. For starters why would these crucial electorates be upset about things that create jobs and brings money to the regions. The left doesn’t hold provincial or rural seats outside Palmerston North (and even then its stretching things to call that seat either). You lot can hardly speak for those electorates.

    Of course you lot are good at destroying jobs in the provinces After all, don’t like the wood industry so we’ll just prevent tree felling. But we won’t actually plant trees. Do you really think the provinces think that much of you lot? The regions will see opportunities. All you lot have gross exaggerations to fall on.

    • Bill 11.1

      Maybe we could explore the vast caverns that lie behind the eyes of corporate lackeys? Traversing those empty spaces could keep quite a few people in employment for a long time. Of course, nothing worth the exploitation would be discovered. But since jobs are more or less about filling in time…..

    • Marty G 11.2

      ginge. Do you know why the Coromandel is a Green stronghold? Do you know why Jeanette Fitzsimons won there becoming the first Green MP in the world to win an electorate? Because of the gold mining plans the last time National was in power. There was a huge protest movement.

      The people of the regions know that the benefits of mining don’t flow to them. There’s relatively few jobs, their environment gets stuffed and the profits from selling the minerals go to fatcats in Auckland or, more likely, overseas.

      Man, have you read about the effects the mine at Waihi has had the population? The subsiding land, the water and air pollution. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/298430

      There’s a lot of people on the Coast too who like it the way it is. They don’t want it torn up to make some foreign company richer.

      Jobs are important, the environment is important. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other.

      captcha: consider

      • gingercrush 11.2.1

        The Coromandel isn’t a Green stronghold. The Green vote does vastly better in inner-city urban areas. I.e. Rongotai, Wellington Central, Christchurch Central, Port Hills (covers hill areas of Christchurch and a number of lifestyle areas) and does poorly in working class urban areas. In the provinces it gets a good share of the vote with Nelson and the West Coast being very good for them (excllent for them). The Greens got 7.5% in 2008 roughly the same share of vote they got in 1999 for Coromandel. A good vote no doubt but hardly a strong-hold. And as you well know National does very good in the electorate. Particularly since they even won it in 2002 (on the candidate vote not party vote).

        As for why they won the electorate in 1999. It was Labour voters. They crossed over and voted Fitzsimmons rather than vote their own candidate. Labour themselves essentially told Labour voters there to cross over and vote for Fitzsimmons. National was going down with Labour clearly having the ability to govern. As such in those situations votes go elsewhere. Case in point in 2008 Waitakere and Auckland Central.That and Shipley was stupid in that she gave the electorate wide media coverage in criticising the Greens. I would say Shipley allowed the Greens to do so well in 1999. Had she shut her mouth the Greens today might not even exist.

        • Armchair Critic 11.2.1.1

          Can’t agree with you GC. There have been a couple of huge fusses in the Coromandel electorate recently.
          One was when some pressure was put on TCDC to change mining from being a prohibited activity in its District Plan. No threat of actual physical works, just a proposed change from “don’t even ask” in a planning document. The issue still isn’t resolved twelve years after TCDC notified its DP in 1997 and now they want to update it and are having to manage the update and ongoing appeal process together. The voters in Coromandel are quite passionate about this issue. http://www.tcdc.govt.nz/NewsAndEvents/Media+Releases/default.htm?sec=News&ID=6894
          And further south MPDC granted permission to do some prospecting. Again nothing serious, just flying over and mapping, nothing on the ground and that ran into some opposition too. I can find the Crown Minerals announcement but no reference to the local debate.
          With the extension of the electorate to include a lot of dairy areas it is safer for National. But this announcement gives either Labour or the Greens to have a good shot at winning the electorate seat and both of them a real opportunity to increase their proportion of the party vote.
          Damian O’Connor didn’t lose West Coast-Tasman by that much either.

          • gingercrush 11.2.1.1.1

            I don’t think Coromandel can be compared to the West-Coast Tasman electorate. Despite what you say if National can win that electorate in 2002 (which was absolutely awful for National) its hard to see going elsewhere unless National does absolutely awful in another election. That seems very unlikely at this time.

            The West-Coast Tasman electorate is vulnerable for National. They only just won the party vote in 2005 and only just won the candidate vote in 2008. It along with New Plymouth, Nelson and Invercargill are electorates where typically the vote has gone with Labour and the left. As such when National is polling downwards those seats have a good chance to be reclaimed by the left. But these are electorates that are changing and are likely to significantly go with National in the future. That is because they keep stretching out into rural areas that inevitably helps National and in the West Coast and Nelson the greens and Labour split their votes. While other electorates such as Otaki, East Coast, Wairarapa could be seen as soft electorates for National.

            It is very hard to entertain though that mere opposition by some circles in Coromandel and this announcement by Brownlee suddenly makes Coromandel vulnerable for National. Considering National basically tore apart both Labour and the Greens. I think you might be smoking something. The only ones outraged would be already existing Labour and Green voters.

            Of course haven’t you lot told us that all your right-wing friends have changed their votes to vote left and haven’t we been told that the budget would make so many voters switch over? Its the same crap over and over again. National makes an announcement. The left get their knickers in a twist over it and start declaring the end of National and support goes back to Labour. Because you still insist on coming to some stupid idea that there are so many soft voters that when they see the light and how far-right this National government is that those voters will repent and find the light that is the Great Labour Party.

            • Armchair Critic 11.2.1.1.1.1

              Yeah, two and a bit years is a long time in politics. Who knows, the whole thing might be a minor issue by then, compared to the issues of the day.
              National had a huge majority in 2008 in Coromandel. With good tactics and a well organised campaign that majority could become vulnerable in 2011. Without those it remains a safe National seat.
              Great rant in the last paragraph – your broad generalisation and assumption making machine works even better than my wild speculation machine.

      • vto 11.2.2

        With direct experience in this Waihi locale Marty I would suggest that what you say is highly inaccurate. Towns in the coro are generally heavily split between the two camps. I think you need to put both sides of the story. The effects of mining on the town of Waihi are significantly beneficial – ffs, the town would not have formed, nor continue to exist in anything like its present form, without that areas mining. Not to mention its historical and ongoing benefit to the unions in NZ.

        It is in fact the perfect example of my 7.56am post.

        There is shitloads of gold left in the coromandel, and much of it can be accessed with very limited enviro effects. Its a battlezone with blinkered ideologies though.

        • Armchair Critic 11.2.2.1

          With you on this one vto. The mining co. in the Martha pit made quite an effort to support and be part of the community in Waihi. I assume they still do now Favona is open.
          I found that Waihi was the most pro-mining town back when I was a regular in the Coromandel area.

    • RedLogix 11.3

      Of course you lot make ludicrous claims about how the National Parks will be destroyed.

      Well of course if we gave then back to the Maori (Tuhoe for instance are making full private ownership claims on Te Urewera) then they wouldn’t be National Parks anymore, so logically digging them up would damage any precious National Parks. That’s one way out of the conundrum and would go part way to explaining the sudden need for a ‘stocktake’… but I’m just being a prat really.

      I don’t know gc, YOU tell us what you think Brownlee is up to. The devil will be in the detail of course, but from my perspective this announcment opens a door that until today was firmly shut and is a pretty unwelcome development.

      And modern mining is a very capital intensive business that does not create all that many direct local jobs; most of the real benefits will finish up in the hands of some big Aussie mining companies. (Which may be one of the things on John Key’s shopping list that he brought back from Melbourne last week…. but again I’m just being a speculative prat I suppose.)

      • gingercrush 11.3.1

        Interesting that you quote that bit when you actually don’t even bother answering why or how these National Parks will be destroyed. A number of these parks are in geographical areas where mining will simply be too expensive or simply too technically challenged that they won’t be touched. In other areas mining could be underground and will result in little environment damage (I’ll ignore the part where that coal or lignite is then used and carbon is emitted).

        Of course we have to wait for the details. But you lot didn’t wait for the details. You just chose to play the outrage game. But if there are areas where we can mine without too much environmental damage and that won’t impact tourism. Then why shouldn’t we?

        As for how much employment it will be bring. In the provinces a small number of jobs is actually a lot and the indirect jobs are very important as well.

        • Maynard J 11.3.1.1

          By the time National gives anyone details, gingercrush, they are already half-way through a sham of public consultation that counts for naught and have already made their mind up, and announced the plan of action.

          Why wait for details – by then it is too late and as your pal Johnnie said, explaining is losing. I do not want to hear details from losers.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.4

      As like most RWNJ you mistake money for life.

      • gingercrush 11.4.1

        As opposed to a pathetic extreme-left fanatic that is always complaining about how horrible money is?You cant have much of a life Draco T Bastard. You seem to spend most of it bitching.

  12. RedLogix 12

    From Stuff:

    The estimated value of untapped minerals in New Zealand has been put at about $140 billion and around 70 percent of that involves conservation land.

    “New Zealand has some of the most pristine landscape in the world. It is recognised in Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act as being impenetrable,” Mr Brownlee said.

    “What we’re saying is where there are new lands added to that we need to balance both aspects of economic and conservation values.

    “But we certainly have no intention of digging up the Crown’s conservation estate. This is a stocktake, which is perfectly reasonable.”

    He said the previous government spent nine years explaining the economic gap between Australia and New Zealand was because of Australia’s mineral wealth.

    “What New Zealanders need to know is that New Zealand is similarly endowed,” he said.

    “It’s going to be a very public process.”

    The only thing impenetrable here is the double-speak from Brownlee. In one breath he is telling us that there is around $100b worth of ‘minerals’ in the Conservation estate and it makes sense to have a ‘stocktake’ of it all, in the next he’s saying it cannot be touched, in the next he’s saying that if anything happens it will be ‘public consultation’ all the way.

    Worse still most of it is probably lignite, which is not only filthy carbon-intensive crap that should be left in the ground, but probably implies hugely destructive open-cast mining.

    • Marty G 12.1

      I loved how genuinely surprised Parker looked on the tvnz clip – ‘He wants to dig up the national parks… for lignite?’

    • Pascal's bookie 12.2

      We know what public consultation means too.

      “Ask Rodney what he wants.”

      ‘Stocktake’. My arse.

      Christ. These guys remind you of the shitty flatmate everyone’s had. You pop out for for a bit and leave your smokes on the table and your beer in the fridge, when you get home you-know-who’s got a hangover and a cough.

      • Marty G 12.2.1

        rotfl. PB. You know, if you ever feel like it, feel free to send in things like that last par as a guest post in themselves. Just brilliant.

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    The state giveth public property to private interests the state protecteth said private interests from negative externalities… Don’t we love the state and its ability to protect the environemnt….

  14. outofbed 14

    From NRT
    So, what exactly is protected by Schedule 4? Starting from the top we have:

    * National parks managed under the National Parks Act 1980;
    * Nature and scientific reserves managed under the Reserves Act 1977;
    * Wilderness areas managed under the Reserves Act 1977 or the Conservation Act 1987;
    * Wildlife sanctuaries managed under the Conservation Act 1987;
    * Wildlife sanctuaries managed under the Wildlife Act 1953;
    * Wetlands protected under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance;
    * Specified ecological areas (predating the framework of the Reserves Act 1977)
    * Any islands around the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Gulf held or managed by DoC, excluding the Mercury Islands;
    * Any Conservation land in the northern part of the Coromandel Peninsula;
    * Marine reserves;
    * Specified examples of the above (which seem redundant).

  15. vto 15

    A generic comment following some history working in the exploration and mining industry..

    Never do more kneejerk ignorant comments spout forth in this country than when the word ‘mining’ is mentioned. Comments above evidence..

    A wee parable/analogy – an average mine may take up say 1,000 acres, which supports both directly and indirectly perhaps a few hundred families in the local community. The land is stripped of its bush cover (unless underground which most are, in which case less bush cover stripped), worked for a period of time generally between 10 and 50-80 years, and then (today at least) managed back to regeneration. Note importantly that almost all of Coromandel is regenerated forest, having been scalped by the loggers 100 years ago.

    Compare that to a 1,000 acre farm, which supports one or maybe two families directly and maybe a couple more indirectly. The land is stripped of its bush cover, worked for a period of time, so far in NZ 140 years with no end in sight, and no idea when it will be able to revert to regenerating bush.

    Mining land is less damaging to the environment than farming land.

    Farmland is many times more destructive than mining. Problem is that people with their kneejerk ignorant reactions see green grass as pretty and bare clay as ugly, which has zip to do with whether it is good for the environment. It is a classic case of fluffy bunny syndrome.

    And in fact Eddie, you fall perfectly into this category with your picture in this post. 100% Pure piccies have a pretty mountain with pretty grass and sheep on it. Your photo has a pretty mountain with bare clay on it. Environmental effect is in fact improved with mining, compared to 100% Pure pics with farms.

    There is such huge ignorance around mining…

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      “Compare that to a 1,000 acre farm…”

      …point taken, but why don’t we compare it to a National Park, or a preserved wetland instead.

      That’s my main issue here, though I’m unconvinced about tailings disposal being not a problem anymore.

      • vto 15.1.1

        Of course p’sb. My point was somewhat generic re the whole industry not so much national parks etc.

        Two issues flow imo. Firstly, the extent to which conservation areas should be opened up. Example – I spend some time on the coast between Haast and Milford Sound. It is absolutely untouched and magnificent and forgotten and should be left that way. I would hav thought it has considerably more value in its current state than for mining. Bit like the alternatives of hunting or tourism for African wildlife. Also, access to remote areas is prohibitive. Some fools occasionally suggest a road down that coast – ha ha ha ha, idiots. Unless they have a Scrooge McDuck vault full of billion dollar notes. It will never happen.

        But then some conservation land is quite accessible and may not have quite the same value and so using it for other purposes may be worthy of (very careful) consideration.

        Secondly, who would get the benefit of any such mines? imo not worth it unless NZ-owned. Why would we let foreigners in and take it all except perhaps a wee slice off the top? Seems pretty dumb. Unfortunately, to explore and mine requires very very deep pockets and NZ struggles to put aside the sort of capital required.

        Brownlee and this push make me nervous, despite my post above. Worth consideration but oh my giddy aunt it requires careful care. I guess we are lucky in that NZ has a very strong and growing conservation lobby who will act to help protect.

        btw p’s b, are you Eddie? Or the old Matthew Pilott?

        • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1

          Yep, I don’t trust them one little bit. You ‘stocktake’ shit you want to sell, as a rule.

          The problem with just chopping off the marigianl bits of the conservation estate, is that there is always a margin. Maybe there is some scrap of land that this could hypothetically be ok for. But every scrap of land was put under protection for a reason.

          (not Eddie or Matty P, haven’t posted anything, anywhere, under anything other than ‘bookie’ for about 2years.)

        • geol101 15.1.1.2

          with most things there’s a trafe-off.

          With geothermal power development there’s been the extinction of quite a few geothermal features in the central Nth Is with a corresponding decline in tourist appeal. There’s also the on-going problem of potential arsenic pollution.

          Of course these are trade-offs – we get advantage but at some cost even for renewable energy. It’s senseless to write off all development without any informed consideration as The Standard would have. That’s more of a religious approach.

          • RedLogix 15.1.1.2.1

            It’s senseless to write off all development without any informed consideration as The Standard would have.

            Look about you, there is development all over the place. Huge portions of NZ have been irreversibly modified already, we’ve lost almost all our lowland forests and wetlands because few people thought to say “Stop” until it was almost all gone. All that was left by then was the high, remote or difficult places that no-one back then thought to turn into farm or plantation forest.

            The whole point of a conservation state is NOT to develop it, irregardless of ‘tradeoffs’.

        • RedLogix 15.1.1.3

          I spend some time on the coast between Haast and Milford Sound. It is absolutely untouched and magnificent and forgotten and should be left that way. I would hav thought it has considerably more value in its current state than for mining.

          Spent a magnificent week in the Upper Cascade/Olivines back about 6 years ago. I’ll never forget pack-floating on my own back down the big gorges, not having clue what was around the next bend.

          Labour stupidly opened up a thin end of the wedge with Happy Valley and Pikes River, and now Brownlee is keen to give it another good whack by the looks of it. The sad thing is that unless we fight to stop them now, in another 5-15 years there’ll be another ramping up the ante, with bigger more intrusive projects… until nowhere, not even the Cascades is safe.

          It’s a pattern we’ve seen repeat over and over everywhere else in the world, so I don’t think it’s paranoid to be concerned for what could so easily happen here as well.

          I

          • Richard 15.1.1.3.1

            Unfortunately the Cascade is already under threat. The same tired old fools (including West Coast mayors and Earl Hagaman – Scenic Circle Hotels owner) are tring to revive the Haast to Hollyford highway proposal. Fortunately the massive coat of such a road might nip it in the bud. But if there were significant mineral deposits found alomg the route…..

            • vto 15.1.1.3.1.1

              Richard, I seen those suggestions too and laughed. Anyone who has been to that part of the coast will know that they are simply barking mad. The cost would be a s t r o n o m i c a l. It will never happen, both for that reason and simple conservation reasons. And that coast is in fact more remote and less visisted than the usual ‘remote fiordland’. Hagaman is just an old whore and made that suggestion for his own commercial promotional reasons. I bet he hasn’t even been there.

              Back in the 70s a couple of huge bulldozers pushed down that coast to Big Bay and then inland to the top of some peak to make an airstrip for mineral exploration access purposes. It failed dismally. Interestingly though, the old dozer tracks can still be seen and the old aristrip, now overgrown.

              Anyways, despite some mining and exploration background I personally would be heavily against any encroachment on no doubt any part of the conservation estate. I think most NZers would be. Life is a bigger picture than immediate gain over a single generation.

              I am tending to agree with most Standardites that these coozers now in charge need extremely careful watching.

    • Richard 15.2

      Right…so we should open up national parks for more farming. Nice one.
      By the way, when National said they wanted to close the income gap with Australia, they didn’t mention selling the family jewels to pay for it.
      As a tourism operator on the West Coast I am disgusted – how can John Key keep a straight face as Minister of Tourism with crap like this. Many tourists are highly impressed not just by our natural areas, but by our commitment to preserving them. Nature based tourism and its associated industries employ massive numbers on the West Coast, and is predominantly locally owned, therefore profits stay locally. Couldn’t say the same for mining. Don’t listen to the crap espoused by West Coast mayors.

    • Quoth the Raven 15.3

      Mining land is less damaging to the environment than farming land.

      If you are surface mining than what you say has no connection to reality. Soil takes hundreds of years to develop. Mining rents drastic changes. The land will not return to its former productivity for a long time after restoration efforts. The changes rent by farming are much less drastic and they actually make an effort to keep their soil productive.

  16. At least we now know what the joint cabinet meeting with the aussies was for.

  17. ak 17

    Top ten reasons for Keyster appearing on Letterman:

    10: The Afghanistinians tell me you’re short of liginite…..

    (post suggestion, sprouty – and bring back the friday nite caption contest!)

    • Richard 17.1

      Letterman won’t understand a word he is saying (could be a good thing). Either give him some lessons on vowel pronunciation or they will need to use subtitles.

      • Kevin Welsh 17.1.1

        I think you are being a bit harsh on the Minister for Celebrities and Autographs. Not everyone gets to be on Letterman you know.

        Barack must have put in a good word to Dave on this one.

  18. What’s interesting is that most of NZ Conservation land is already open to mining.

    Infact all the examples Gerry gives of good “ecological sound” mining are examples of mines which have been allowed in DOC land. So one’s left wondering why he wants to open the rest of it to mining.
    (When most of it already is)

  19. Maynard J 20

    Newspeak of the day award to Brownlee for:

    ‘”New Zealand has some of the most pristine landscape in the world. It is recognised in Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act as being impenetrable,” said Brownlee.

    “What we’re saying is where there are new lands added to that we need to balance both aspects of economic and conservation values.

    “But we certainly have no intention of digging up the Crown’s conservation estate. This is a stocktake, which is perfectly reasonable.”‘

    To elaborate: Schedule four land is impenetrable. When new land is added to schedule four we need to check first to see if we want to mine it insead of protecting it. But we will not do that, because we are only looking at mining current schedule 4 land, which is impenetrable.

    That does not even say whether they are looking at downgrading currently protected land becuse of economic considerations, or not giving new areas of land the same protection because of envirnomental lands.

    But for all the doublespeak, the intent is clear (earlier newspeak tag perhaps not warranted): If there is money to be made, land will not be protected to the same degree, and if we can get away with it, we will downgrade land classifications to allow mining.

    How is that brighter future looking?

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