Finally, some dividing issues (mining)

by Jake Quinn


surgical mining perhaps?

National’s decision to open the debate about additional mining in the conservation estate – namely in the schedule 4 zones of our National Parks – shows either that they are ready for a fight (that is, ready to use up some of that political capital that pundits keep talking about) or that its polling has shown that the issue is more evenly split than most might imagine.

Brownlee’s repeated gaffs however (the chap has had a rough couple of days) suggest that the government might have bitten off more than it wishes to chew.

Moreover, today’s Economist article shows the extent of the seriousness with which the world views New Zealand’s 100% pure tourism image, and the risk the country runs in further eroding it.

Anyway, the point of this post is not (just) to poke fun at the Energy Minister but to note that this, like the whaling issue, is another clear point of difference between Labour and National.

(Just in case anyone still subscribed to that strange view that there is nothing differentiating New Zealand’s two major parties and that “choosing between them is like choosing between twins at a beauty pageant”, a view that I think is quite absurd).

Mining National Parks is a far more simplistic an issue than whaling (outlined 2 posts above) and one which I think Labour is now handling rather well.

Why is mining in the National Parks such a simple issue, politically?  Because it’s just a rather shite idea.

Firstly, any minerals pulled out of the ground will no doubt be extracted by foreign companies which will leave behind them a minuscule cut for the country (TVNZ tonight talked about 1%).

Secondly, you can only pull minerals out of the ground once.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone.  The landscape, however, is never the same.

While it is impossible to put a  true monetary value on a pleasant stretch of dirt and trees, it seems intuitive that the value of that piece of pristine National Park, in the long-term, is surely greater than the value of pulling a few tones of minerals today.

So for a 1% cut of whatever they find, which will be eaten up swiftly by new govt spending announcements or to feed tax-cuts, we end up with a bunch of large gaping holes in the landscape.  Doesn’t sound much like a sweet deal to me.

Leave your diggers across the ditch.