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Privatising national parks

Written By: - Date published: 8:55 am, March 2nd, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: Conservation, national, privatisation - Tags: , ,

If you don’t read Pundit you should. This article by Claire Browning, for example, is excellent. Claire points out that National is trying to get away with a huge con…

John Key’s broken promise, on National’s parks

Key promised no state assets would be sold or partly sold in the first term of his government. But that’s in effect what’s happening, to our biggest state asset of them all

…We know now what it means, to balance the economy and the environment. It’s a zero-sum game: to make economic progress by sacrificing a bit more nature, and then another bit, and then perhaps another

Here are four examples, which are all about conservation and Crown pastoral lands collectively, our biggest state asset. Around a third of the country is protected or partly protected. For most of the last decade, until late last year, tourism was New Zealand’s biggest foreign exchange earner.
1. Mining Schedule 4 protected areas…
2. Commercial concessions on conservation land…
3. Tenure review in the McKenzie country…
4. Irrigating Crown pastoral land for dairy conversion…

The tenor of all these discussions shows money talking. Key misled his voters, when he undertook not to sell state assets in whole or part this term. Indirectly, this is exactly what he’s doing, exposing our biggest asset of all to the risk the highest bidder will win. Next time we all get antsy about privatizing some lesser SOE, I would just say, fuck the SOE, frankly, because we’re doing it to something far more valuable.

He’s dressing up 19th century colonial thinking in the 21st century language of ‘step change’. This is not ‘step change’ (whatever that may be), it’s the old paradigm on which this country was built, about exploiting finite resources to maximum effect, and the dusty mantras of ‘growth’ and ‘catching Australia’.

It’s been framed in terms of spending political capital. It’s our capital being spent, undermining the very assets that make us rich. As I found here, when the World Bank ranked New Zealand second to Saudi Arabia, in terms of natural wealth per capita, 19% of that wealth was attributable to protected areas, only 3% to subsoil assets. And in fact, it’s not even ‘ours’, but another inter-generational wealth transfer. Mining or dairy might give us a bounce now, by pillaging finite resources. What happens when they run out?

And I keep thinking about something else Nick Smith said a lot during the election campaign. ‘It’s not National Party policy to dam the last river,’ he kept saying, ‘of course we won’t dam the last river’. What I’m wondering is: where, short of that, will it stop?

Powerful stuff from Claire. Read the whole article on Pundit.

16 comments on “Privatising national parks ”

  1. Always nice to be appreciated, so on behalf of Pundit, thanks. Claire does an amazing job drilling deep (if you can excuse the pun) into policy and potential law changes. In the comments she adds the important detail that of the 3/4 of a million hectares Labour put into Schedule 4, half a million was the marine reserve down around the Auckland Is…

    • lprent 1.1

      Added you to Other Blogs as well as Media Sites. Looks like quite a mixture these days.

      I’ve just read Beatson’s post on ‘Toyota’. A post is starting to germinate….

    • Red Rosa 1.2

      The critical point is Schedule 4. This land should genuinely be sacrosanct.

      The Nats will try to slither out of any criticism by pointing out (correctly enough) that not all DoC land is Schedule 4.

      Any tramper can tells stories of abandoned mines all across NZ. Gold and coal mining have moved on as technology has changed, while searches for other minerals have mostly proved fruitless.

      And what minerals does Brownlie have in mind? The costs of prospecting are daunting these days, while the big multi national miners don’t seem to be clamoring for access to the national parks.

    • r0b 1.3

      No problem Tim, as I may have mentioned before I’m a big fan. You have many great writers, but Claire is a real gem!

    • Red Rosa 1.4

      Yes, congrats to Claire to echo those below. Great stuff.

      It is indeed extraordinary that the govt royalties from gold last year were only $5m, if Bobbie below has it right. How is this calculated? And are there special tax rules as well?

  2. prism 2

    Yes so true. The trend is a few big financiers to snatch the resources and work them for their own profit. So we are going back from the ideas of our origins
    in early colonial days when there was a desire to make land available to ordinary people for farms. Now the exploitation of the country by the powerful and wealthy is beginning again.

  3. tc 3

    Outrageous/scandelous/lying/deception………more of the same from the NACT then.

    Shall we all hold our breath for the MSM to break this story as all kiwi’s and future generations are impacted………..live in hope.

  4. Bobbie 4

    And the state asset of our minerals is being given away for free, not even sold. Total Royalties for gold last year less than $5 million, and gold mining co’s have tax concessions not given to other companies… even to coal mining companies …

    more at http://www.watchdog.org.nz

  5. reddy 5


    Thanks Clare. It’s not just an asset sale, it’s a biggie. It’s ours and it gunna be theirs.

  6. logie97 6

    Publicly owned assets, (particularly land and its unearthed riches and resources) are under the ‘scope for selling off.
    The proceeds of the sales go where? retiring debt no.
    Financing tax cuts in a lolly-scramble more attractive.
    And who will be the major beneficiaries of the tax cuts.
    People at the top table.
    Are they the same ones who are buying the assets on sale?
    More than likely.
    So, the government takes their money in the sale and then gives it back to them in tax cuts.
    It doesn’t get better than that.
    Under the last administration that would have been described as the “c” word.

  7. Tim 7

    Would it be fair to mention that lands which maori have made claims for through the Waitangi Tribunal, which are at present, unsettled, are being held by DoC and so effectively, the Nats are undermining the settlement process and maori by wanting to sell these lands off? Or am I missing something? Maybe I’m just commenting too late

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