The NZ First Party has already threatened the environment and communities with their “fast track” law change plan that will give Ministers unilateral powers to issue mining consents without public processes.
Their policies, supported by rest of the new Government, are an extraordinary attack on communities right to participate and on the roles of DOC and local councils in considering access agreements and consents for mining. The approach is more like dictatorship than leadership on an issue of huge public interest, especially on the public conservation lands.
If they can take away all public scrutiny and participation fought for by communities, they will inspire the kind of national public outcry not seen since the huge march against National’s proposal to mine National Parks and Schedule 4 conservation land in 2010.
The importance of protecting biodiversity, water and the climate is well understood in 2023, but Shane Jones is acting as if the only issue is jobs. There are more jobs in regions such as Hauraki in low impact recreation related tourism than digging up or blasting under mountains.
But the most bizarre plan led by NZ First relates to removing all opportunity to participate in scrutiny of mining applications. This takes us back to the 1970s when miners had automatic privileges and communities had no voice. It cannot be tolerated because although the new Government don’t have any respect for the environment or people’s right to protect it, it’s a core value for many sections of our communities.
The new Minister of Regional Development has recently made poorly informed comments about opposition to the Wharekirauponga mining proposal neat Whangamatā which is the home of an endangered 200 million year old frog species.
The risks of mining are long term in local areas and the profits go offshore which is why projects need public scrutiny not uninformed advocacy by a Government who plan to be exclude all except their Ministers from making these critical decisions.