I thought that National’s counter-attack would be to paint Labour as anti-mining – ‘they’re abandoning their roots’ ‘they’re anti progress’ etc etc. But, oddly, they’ve opted (first in the House, duly repeated on the party blogs) for a hypocrisy angle – ‘Labour used to say they liked mining, now they don’t’.
Dumb move because Labour has a watertight and truthful response: Labour is not anti any and all mining. Never has been. It recognises that we need raw materials for an industrial economy. Or as David Parker puts it:
“We have always and will continue to support mining where appropriate on non-Schedule 4 lands”
What Labour has always said is that mining must be environmentally responsible and can’t take place on areas of special natural value. Those areas are the ones in Schedule Four and include most (but not all) of the National Parks and some other areas of the conversation estate. Labour has always agreed with environmentally responsible mining on private land and conservation estate outside of Schedule 4.
That used to be National’s position too. Indeed it was National that introduced Schedule 4 (because they were afraid a Labour private member’s bill with the same effect would pass).
Now, National is saying that miners should be allowed on Schedule 4 land, despite 90% of the country’s mineral wealth being outside the Schedule 4 areas that National wants to remove and not having any idea of the value of the minerals in those areas to the New Zealand economy or the environmental cost.
Think about it. If this policy wasn’t a change to existing Labour policy, then there would be no announcement and no new controversy.
Labour supports responsible mining, not the Nats’ dig and pray on our most precious land.
Only one party has changed its position here.