I was shocked but not surprised to hear that National are considering opening our National Parks up for mining. At the same time, I can’t help but feel an unfortunate sense of deja vu. Labour’s Conservation spokesperson David Parker is quoted by 3News today as saying:
We were certainly not told this before the election that parts of the conservation estate including national parks would have big coal mines on them. How absurd!
Indeed. How absurd that the government could decide to open up parts of our conservation estate for coal mining. What then, do Parker and the Labour Party feel about coal mining in Happy Valley on the West Coast, a beautiful pristine area on public conservation land?
The previous Labour Government chose not to intervene, despite having the power to do so with Solid Energy being a State Owned Enterprise. Labour’s Conservation Minister at the time, Chris Carter was in fact all in favour of the Happy Valley mine. Carter approved permits under the Wildlife Act for the rare, native Powelliphanta â€˜Augustus’ snails to be removed from most of what was left of their natural habitat, thereby allowing the mining to go ahead. This was despite recommendations from his own department – DoC’s snail expert Kath Walker advised that moving the snails would likely result in their extinction.
Instead of protecting our conservation estate, Labour were complacent in the spying on Save Happy Valley, the group protesting the Happy Valley coal mine. Labour’s Minister of SOE’s at the time, Trevor Mallard, warned Solid Energy to stop employing private investigation firm Thompson & Clark, but took no further action when they were ousted for spying on activists for the second time by investigative journalist Nicky Hager.
Now Labour is seemingly taking a strong stand against coal mines on our conservation estate, and so they should. In my opinion however, the first step along the way would be to apologise to Save Happy Valley, and join their campaign against the Happy Valley coal mine. That would be a good start in signaling to the present National Government that further destruction of our heritage is not worth the hassle.