According to the NZ Herald:
The Government has scrapped plans to mine conservation land in the face of furious public protest, NZPA has confirmed. Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee will announced the Cabinet’s decision after National’s MPs have been told about it at a caucus meeting…
Mr Brownlee is expected to announce that not only will there be no mining in those areas but all national parks will in future be protected. He is likely to unveil plans for mining in other, less contentious parts of the country. That could involve Crown-owned land which is not part of the conservation estate.
Brownlee will be looking, with some desperation, for a win out of this. He nailed his colours tightly to the mining mast, saying in the House for example:
…mining at the moment takes up 0.015 percent of New Zealand’s land mass. If that were doubled, it would still be largely unnoticeable but it would provide some $4 billion to $5 billion in GDP. It is part ofâ€”and I have maintained this all the wayâ€”a number of things that will lead to a step change in the New Zealand economy.
Yes, not so long ago Mr Brownlee was all for full steam ahead saying in the ODT that mining is an ongoing industry in other countries considered green, dismissing claims that New Zealand’s green credentials will take a big hit if schedule four land is opened to mining. It was all, according to comments on TV3, “scaremongering” that “discouraged the debate over proposed plans to mine protected land.”
Embarassing also for Mr Key, who for some time appeared to be backing his Energy Ministers plans, coining the phrase “surgical incision”. But he’s backed off (thank goodness), leaving his Minister to hang out to dry. (and fronting). Key must be asking himself if someone else had been managing the issue whether it would have gone quite so badly awry. The campaign coffers would potentially be a bit plumper too…