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Minister undermines own argument & NZ’s pure image

16 September 2009

Minister undermines own argument and NZ’s pure image

When confronted during question time in the House today with public concerns on Government plans to open up New Zealand’s conservation lands for mining, Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee went silent.

“When I challenged the Minister that Kiwis already know how blessed we are with natural resources, how we already value our magnificent conservation places and don’t want them plundered for fool’s gold and dirty coal, he could not or would not reply,” Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei said.

“New Zealanders deserve answers and the Minister’s refusal to even answer my parliamentary question said a lot.”

Mrs Turei challenged Mr Brownlee on his misreading of a World Bank report he cited in a recent speech, which showed that New Zealand ranked second globally in natural wealth per capita.

She pointed out that conservation land made up 20 percent of our natural wealth compared to only 3 percent in minerals. The remainder of the natural wealth is in farms and forests.

“The real wealth in our magnificent conservation land exists because they are protected,” Mrs Turei said.

“Tourism is our biggest export earner and no tourist comes here to look at mines. This controversial stock taking plan – a clear prelude to opening up mining – is short sighted.

“The economic value of mining is poor and it undermines the real value of our natural environment – magnificent, unspoiled land that is a true treasure for all New Zealanders and deserves protection.”

The public conservation estate returned more than $20 billion to communities from 2004-2007 through flood protection, marine conservation and tourism ventures, Mrs Turei said. Carbon sink opportunities would provide further economic value to our conservation estate.

“Mr Brownlee’s repeated references to ‘low-value’conservation land – during Conservation Week no less - are of grave concern,” Mrs Turei said.

“Protected places in Schedule Four, such as national parks, marine reserves and wildlife sanctuaries are our most treasured areas. They are essential to our national identity and it is this generation’s responsibility to leave them pristine for our grandchildren. Let’s not trash them by blinkered searching for fool’s gold and dirty coal.”

* The World Bank report:
http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1998/11/17/000009265_3981013134540/Rendered/PDF/multi_page.pdf

* Mr Brownlee’s speech: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/speech/opening+address+australasian+institute+mining+and+metallurgy+2009

ENDS

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