STOP calling them conservationists, call them what they really are

If mining companies didn’t have the fortitude they clearly possess they’d close their doors now because it’s all uphill from here.  And New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals too, because they’re fast becoming redundant.  Potential investors in our resource sector will be running a mile from this government.

Since when does a government department, the Department of Conservation, wade into a legal process to stop a New Zealand mining company going about its business?

Since the 15 January 2018, when the Director-General of Conservation signed a notice of intention to be part of an action brought by Forest and Bird against Stevenson Mining’s proposed Te Kuha coal mine.  

This is a first and not a good one.

Te Kuha – not exactly pristine native bush!       Photo from waateanews.com

Leading the charge is Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation, a previous employee of Forest and Bird for 13 years and lifetime member.

Forest and Bird violently oppose mining in any shape or form and now they have one of their own leading DOC by the nose.

The Green Party and Forest and Bird are so intertwined they’re inseparable, and now they’re dragging DOC in for a threesome.

Forest and Bird’s CE Kevin Hague was a Green Party politician for eight years and their spokesman for Health in 2016.

The new government vowed to restore DOC’s statutory function to advocate for the environment,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. “Here is the evidence of that shift in direction.Hague also said, “The new government has shown it wants to give the Department of Conservation its voice back as an advocate for the environment.”

-forestandbird.org.nz

Sage didn’t take long to chuck her weight around, in November declaring her intention to put an end to mining on conservation land:

There is currently a review of stewardship land, which includes over 2.5 million hectares and makes up 30 per cent of conservation land. The review will look to reclassify appropriate tracts of land into conservation estates or land for productive purposes.

One way to protect all conservation lands would be to bring them under Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act, which provides protection for areas including national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

This fast and dirty solution to reclassify conservation land into Schedule 4 will make it inaccessible for mining.

Sage is indicating it’s only a matter of time before this happens, regardless of whether the area has irreplaceable conservation value or not.   Some areas previously included in Schedule 4 have little or no conservation value.

They have two arguments for doing this.  One is “high-value conservation land” and the other is “critically endangered species.”

The “critically endangered” wildlife information bandied about is decades old.  Independent research on habitat and numbers should be updated.  But that’s unlikely to happen due to the risk of new data not supporting the conservationist argument.

Archeys frog DOC image

Critically endangered Archeys frog North island Photo Doc.govt.nz

Before we know it, large tracts of conservation land, including the whole of Coromandel, could be dumped into Schedule 4 for no good reason.

The greens agenda to put an end to mining has reverberated right through this government.

Minister for Rural Communities Damien O’Connor said stopping mining on conservation land would not have a large impact on jobs, as current mines would not be closed down.
He said if a future mine was proposed for conservation land, “then it’s unlikely it will go ahead.”

What does the Minister of Energy and Resources, Megan Woods, say on the matter?
Nothing of course. She already has her hands full with the Christchurch rebuild.  Now wasn’t that a clever portfolio distribution attempt to bury the resources sector?

Where are the voices for mining? Where is the argument for economic progress in our resource sector, if in fact, it survives this government? Where is the voice of the local Te Kuha community who stand to lose fifty-eight jobs and $40 million in revenue if the Te Kuha mine is blocked?

Is this the first item on the greenies agenda, will they target the farming sector next?

It’s time to push back. A pitiful 6.3% of the votes in the last election is not a mandate to strangle the economy. Don’t expect any public debate from the greenies, Forest and Bird and now DOC, as they are all in bed together.

Let’s stop calling them conservationists and call them what they really are – prohibitionists!

-NZ Herald


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Suze aka Sue Sangster is an avid reader, writer and aspiring novelist with a green thumb.

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