Well done Kiwis! A rousing show of solidarity and strength has forced the Nats to back down from their plans to mine Schedule 4 land. We have preserved some of the most precious places in our country for future generations (or at least until the next time we get a neanderthal Nat government trying it on again). At time of writing Newsroom reports:
Mining Backdown Confirmed – Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee put on a brave face today as he confirmed that Government plans to allow mining on parts of highly protected Conservation land are dead.
Vernon Small reports that the decision is causing splits among the Nats:
Cabinet divides over mining U-turn
An embarrassing backdown over mining has exposed deep divisions in the Cabinet over the pace of economic reform.
In a major U-turn forced by Prime Minister John Key, the Government has abandoned plans to open up to 7000 hectares of protected conservation land to mining, despite touting it as a key plank of its promised “economic step-change”. Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee who was a strong advocate of the policy will front the announcement today, after National MPs are briefed at their weekly caucus meeting.
It will include a promise not to allow mining on land in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park, on the West Coast, earmarked as containing mineral resources after a stocktake that identified $140 billion of mineral resources, 70 per cent of which was on the conservation estate. It is understood Mr Key, backed by the Cabinet’s moderate faction normally including Transport Minister Steven Joyce and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully over-rode those wanting to press ahead with moves they saw as an important feature of the party’s economic message.
Now the decision is made, ministers are bound by collective responsibility and are expected to close ranks and publicly support the decision, which is expected to include guarantees of protection for national parks.
I expect that collective responsibility will hold, but I can well believe the reported splits. The Nats don’t have any ideas of their own for lifting this country, and they refuse to listen to other people’s. Digging stuff up was the best they could manage, and now that door has been partly closed to them.
On occasion I’ve been known to congratulate the Nats if they seem to have acted sensibly or out of principle. I have no such congratulations for them this time. This is a straight craven backdown driven by Key’s relentless need to remain Mr Popular. But whatever the reason its the right result, and for that I am deeply happy.