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What Is The Meaning Of 'Neutral' To Politicans?

What Is The Meaning Of 'Neutral' To Politicans?

Over the past few weeks I have tried without success to find a politician prepared to receive our petition of 11,000 signatures opposed to NZ King Salmon expanding their farms into the prohibited zone of the Marlborough Sounds.

I have asked Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman, National MP Colin King, Minister for Conservation Amy Adams, Minister for Primary Industries David Carter and Minister for Tourism and Prime Minister John Key. I offered to travel to Parliament if necessary and would have taken five minutes of their time, at the most.

However, no one has been prepared to receive the petition. They cite two reasons: they either want to remain neutral or do not want to interfere while the Board of Inquiry is still making its decision. Both are plausible reasons.

Yet last week at the Aquaculture conference in Nelson, Mr Carter said: “I have been following the [King Salmon] proposal closely and I’m keen to see a positive outcome.”

And this was after I received an email from his office that said: “The Minister and the Ministry for Primary Industries has remained neutral on this matter throughout the Board of Inquiry hearing by the Environmental Protection Authority, and for this reason the Minister does not think it would be appropriate to accept your petition. Furthermore given the matter is currently before the Board of Inquiry, it is important that the Minister not comment on the matter until the Board has reached a decision.

I’m now confused as to what David Carter means by “neutral”. While I’m being told it would compromise the Ministry’s neutral stance to receive the petition, the minister himself openly speaks of his support for the proposal.

Receiving a petition does not mean he must support or oppose the cause. It is simply a symbolic gesture that acknowledges the public’s right to have their say.

I am very disappointed with David Carter and his Government, which is more interested in supporting an overseas-owned salmon company than listening to the concerns of their community.


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