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Gulf Act To Get Select Committee Treatment

An amendment to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act that would clear the way for the stalled Whitianga Waterways project to go ahead will go to select committee for consideration rather than be rushed through Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Mr Anderton said the select committee process, which is anticipated to take two to three weeks, was important to make sure the amendment does what it is meant to do, “no more, no less.”

Mr Anderton said Michael Cullen is discussing the passage of the amendment with other parties.

He said the amendment would clear the way for Conservation Minister Sandra Lee to make a decision on the Whitianga Waterways project “imminently and quickly,” without having to consider the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.

Also at this afternoon’s post-Cabinet presser:

- WEST COAST MINING: Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said the only similarities between the Whitianga Waterways project and a proposal for open cast mining on Department of Conservation land on the West Coast also being considered by Conservation Minister Sandra Lee was that National’s conservation spokesperson Nick Smith had released a statement on both of them.

Mr Anderton said legitimate mining has a place and is not necessarily mutually exclusive with conservation.

He said the Conservation Minister needed to weigh up the issues, including employment on the West Coast and impact on Department of Conservation land, and make a decision in a reasonable and timely fashion.

- SMOKING CHANGES: The Alliance Party is in favour of restrictions on smoking in places where other people are affected by second hand smoke, but recognised a need for common sense and compassion as well, Alliance Leader Jim Anderton said today.

Mr Anderton said if the Alliance caucus makes a decision to support law changes it will be binding on the whole caucus, and crossing the house by MPs such as Willie Jackson, who has expressed concerns about the extent of proposed changes, would not be acceptable.

Mr Anderton said any economic effect on the hospitality industry caused by the introduction of tougher smoking laws would have to be considered, but said health issues were important too.

- I.D. CARDS: Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said he would want to see a report on the effectiveness of voluntary I.D. cards for the purchasing of liquor before going down the path of compulsory I.D. cards.

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