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Copeland: UF won't back Crown Minerals Bill

Copeland: UF won't back Crown Minerals Bill

United Future will not back the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill - a bill it had hoped to support - because of the way it would connect to the seriously flawed Conservation Act, United Future's Gordon Copeland says.

"There is no point putting through legislation that impacts on privately owned land but doesn't touch the 33 percent of New Zealand under the Conservation Act.

"As long as that Act exists in such a way that it is so inflexible as to often work against New Zealand's broader social and economic interests, then United Future will not back legislation that effectively compounds that error," Mr Copeland said.

"Address the Conservation Act, and then bills such as the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill will actually be useful to New Zealand," he said.

As it stands, the Conservation Minister is advocate, judge and jury on the use of that 33 percent of the country, including virtually all rivers, lakes and streams, and "everything from pristine conservation areas and national parks to a variety of 'rubbish' land," Mr Copeland said in Parliament yesterday.

"And this land is effectively out of the reach of the Crown Minerals Bill, meaning that it's a fairly useless piece of legislation.

"And it gets worse. The public of New Zealand, mining companies, the energy generating companies and tourism operators never get to hear exactly what the Minister in his role as an advocate gets to say to the Minister in his role as the sole judge - and there is no right of appeal.

"This is a major systemic problem - and it is most clearly reflected in the fact that since 1987, no new hydro generation projects or tourism facilities such as hotels have been permitted on the one third of New Zealand land controlled by DOC and the Minister," he told the House.

"The bottom line is that international mining companies are bypassing New Zealand and heading off to places like Western Australia where they have proper transparent processes, manuals and policies in relation to mining on conservation land.

"What do we have? Ill-defined, unaccountable, autocratic decision-making. No one can do business in that environment, so let's get it fixed," he said.

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