01 May 2010

Brownlee's reverse Midas touch on Mining

John Armstrong, the New Zealand Herald's chief political commentator, is hardly out on the extreme left.

Today he has written a scathing column about Minister of Energy and Resources Gerry Brownlee's plan to lift the prohibition on mining in 7,000 hectares from national parks and some other high-value conservation areas which would otherwise be protected by their inclusion in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991.

Armstrong says the idea "is turning to custard", that his search for a mining Eldorado is "King Midas in reverse".

Armstrong writes that the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has "slammed the document as inadequate in assessing the real ecological impact of mining in specific localities, deficient in the way it measures the value of minerals claimed to be underground and unacceptable in recommending additions to Schedule Four as some kind of quid pro quo for taking other land out of that protection."

Armstrong considers Brownlee's poor "salesmanship" is a symptom of a wider problem of the National Government. Ministers seeking policy advice from outside of the core public service. That's consistent with Rod Oram's view that Brownlee only takes advice from mining industry insiders.

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