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Howard's End: No Justice And Fairness For Coasters

Scoop readers know that I stand for justice and fairness and that includes for the people where I live in on West Coast. For a moment, let's forget about mining, logging and the other extractive industries and focus on words like discrimination, marginalisation, and right to self-determination. Maree Howard writes.

Firstly, the West Coast DID NOT receive a full $120 million adjustment package from the Government.

It is only allowed to use the INTEREST on that money plus 5 percent of the capital each year.

This means if the West Coast wished to mount a major sustainable wind farm electricity project it would be almost impossible. Each wind turbine costs around $2 million.

To be a viable, sustainable and self-sufficient power project we would need a minimum 14 of them for long-term sustainable energy - Cost, $28 million plus.

From just the interest on that $120 million we won't have that money or an amount anything like it. This also applies to other major job creating industries the Coast urgently needs.

Secondly, the Minister of Conservation, Hon Sandra Lee, made her decision to deny access to Macreas Mining under section 61 of the Crown Minerals Act.

I now believe Ms Lee is in error when she says she cannot consider the social and economic circumstances when making her decision.

There has never been a socio/economic impact study done by any Government over their decisions.

Ms Lee says section 61 of the Crown Minerals Act allows her to consider only the conservation values and matters surrounding that.

Then how does she explain section 9 of the Crown Minerals Act which states " Compliance with this Act does not remove the need to comply with all other applicable Acts, regulations, bylaws, and rules of law."

The Resource Management Act and the NZ Bill of Rights Act are just two applicable Acts that I can think of which the Minister must also comply with. There are also the rules of law which she must comply with.

There is no evidence from her press releases or public statements that she did. She has simply dispensed with those laws or the execution of them. The Parliament makes the laws and is sovereign - not the Crown and its Ministers.

However, like my Scoop colleague Russell Brown and, I might say, some on the West Coast, we are asking the question that if Macreas Mining already has access rights for a smaller mining project then why haven't they already started? There have been no answers that I have seen.

Discrimination, marginalisation and right to self determination are pretty powerful words, so let's look at the record of those allegations as it applies to Government's both past and present.

* The Labour Government's 1989 confiscation of former Harbour Board Endowment Land from the Grey District without compensation.

* The National Government's 1993 halt to the new Ngokawau power station development in Buller District because of the habitat of a snail.

* The National Government's 1997 halt to the Taipo power station development.

* The National Government's 1999 halt to the Granity Coal Jetty.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2000 direction to Timberlands Ltd to withdraw their resource consent application for a proposed sustainable beech scheme.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2000 breaking of the 1986 West Coast Accord, yet only allowing the interest plus 5% of capital on the $120 million adjustment package to be used.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2000 breaking of the Westco Lagan contracts without payment of compensation. On appeal, the courts held that it was not prepared to rule on some aspects of the law used in their case without further investigation. But then failed to conduct that investigation before ruling against Westco Lagan.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2001 refusal to allow processing of millions of dollars worth of wind-thrown timber at Haast. It's now rotting and releasing its Co2 back into the atmosphere.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2001 agreement to place a conservation order over the Buller River and other rivers.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2001 transfer of 130,000 hectares of former Timberlands production land back into the Conservation Estate. West Coast leaders were not consulted or even allowed on a review panel.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's denial of a new Dobson Power station.

* The Labour/Alliance Government's 2001 refusal of a Macreas mining access agreement.

There are further people have also been refused access agreements.

Now let's look at the on-going objections to other West Coast projects from both politicians, DOC and the environmental movement.

* Objections to the Pike River coal-field reserves development

* Objections to the South Westland development of a water export business.

* Objections to the Haast/Hollyford and Collingwood/Karamea Loop roads.

* Objections to the Jackson Bay mussel farm development.

Oh Yes! then there was the Government's failure to plant 20,000 hectares of new trees in Buller District promised under the 1986 West Coast Accord when thousands of hectares of production land was agreed to be transferred to the DOC estate.

Taken together, everyone of these refusals has denied potential jobs, real economic development and potential economic development to the West Coast.

Nowhere else in this country can I think of any other region who has been subjected to this amount of discrimination, marginalisation or a denial to a right to self-determination.

The West Coast is supposed to make its right to self determination from just 10 percent of available land. The other 90 percent is already locked-up in Crown or Conservation Estate.

The cartoonist Al Nisbet drew a cartoon against the West Coast people which was published in the Christchurch newspaper, The Press, on Saturday. If Nisbet was in America, Britain or Australia he, and The Press, would have likely been charged with a hate crime. In Britain, Nisbet would have likely faced a further charge under their Protection from Harrassment Act.

But why wouldn't he draw it and why wouldn't The Press publish it? The Prime Minister herself called West Coasters feral in-breds.

It's OK, you see, we're not seen as able to deliver the vote for politicians and we can be discriminated against and marginalised without penalty at the ballot box.

When West Coast children find a need to ask, " Why do they hate us?", then we have a real problem coming down the track in this country. And it's not a light at the end of the tunnel - it's the steam train.

Justice and fairness? I don't think so. God help us all!

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