Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prising open our National Parks

Back in 2010, National decided that it wanted to dig up our National Parks. The public didn't buy it. but now, they're back for another go, with the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill. The bill will do a positive thing, by ensuring that all land classified as a National park, Nature Reserve etc in future is automatically included in Schedule 4. But it also weakens the protection on that land, in order to allow mining.

At present, decisions on whether to permit mining on Schedule 4 land are made by the Minister of Conservation, and strictly on conservation grounds. The bill would change that, inserting the Minister of Energy as a joint decision-maker, and adding an economic benefits test. So, the question of whether to dig up a National Park will be a question of "balancing" conserving the area with the projected economic benefits of destroying it. And under National, we know which side will win that test: it will be all mining, all the way, and conservation values will be ignored.

These are both terrible ideas, which will weaken conservation protections on our most valuable natural taonga. They should not be enacted. National Parks, Reserves and Wilderness Areas are for conservation, not mining, and the law should reflect that.