Thursday, February 18, 2010

More proof that Brownlee lied

In the House today, Labour's Charles Chauvel took Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee to task over his lying to the public about not being influenced by L&M Mining in his decision to bully the Minister of Conservation to exclude an area over which L&M had an exploration permit from the Oteake Conservation Park. As part of that, Chauvel tabled in the House advice from Crown Minerals [PDF], which made it very clear that the pressure to change the boundaries came from L&M. The relevant section:

L & M has advised [Withheld under s9(2)(b)(ii) - commercial sensitivity] L & M is confident that it can attract significant investment to New Zealand resulting in the commercialisation of major projects bringing much needed investment, income and infrastructure development to the country.

While securing the necessary financial investment is an important factor, the successful development of the Hawkdun project is contingent on L & M gaining access to the entire lignite resource. The proposed reclassifying of the land that hosts the central portion of the deposit to conservation park status is potentially a significant investment barrier because of increased uncertainty (real and perceived) given that the new 'specially protected' designation should substantially influence the Minister of Conservation's consideration of any exploration or mining access arrangements.

Following this, Conservation Minister Tim Groser claimed that all the government's advice showed that L&M's project was highly unlikely to proceed. Which begs the question: why did they exclude the land for a project which they thought would never happen?