Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No appetite for mining-sector transparency from National

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is an international organisation to promote transparency around mining. Its member states agree to follow the EITI Standard, which basically boils down to publishing a full breakdown of revenues and payments from mining, oil, and gas companies. Companies can join it too, allowing a full independent audit of payments, ensuring that companies don't cheat and governments aren't cheated.

The New Zealand government is supposedly committed to transparency. So does it want to join? Not really, according to documents released under the OIA. The Minister of Primary Industries asked about it early last year in response to international pressure, and MBIE's advice was that the benefits were low and that a full scoping report should be done. Naturally, it wasn't. So when the Minister came under more international pressure in November, he was reduced to empty talking points about 'ask[ing] officials to give me advice on whether New Zealand should be considering a scoping study" and "What would be the benefit of implementing the EITI for New Zealand".

Its clear from that that MBIE thinks there is no benefit - or rather, that the benefit of transparency in taming the notoriously corrupt minerals industry is small. But they did think there was one benefit:
Yes, that's right: they think that the EITI's requirement for a multi-stakeholder group could be used to "increase social licence", essentially by recruiting anti-mining groups and trapping them in a process which turns them into judas goats. Which tells you very clearly what the government thinks of the Land and Water Forum - and that no environmental NGO should ever participate in such a forum ever again. If "engagement" is seen by the government as a means of publicly suborning you to its agenda, it is better not to engage.