Here is my submission.
Submission on the Crown Minerals Permitting and Crown Land Bill 2012
I oppose this bill in it's entirety.
I especially oppose:
1) changing the purpose of the CMA is to "promote prospecting for, exploration for, and mining of Crown owned minerals for the benefit of New Zealand"
I consider the present wording of the CMA to be suitable and consistent with providing an impartial and economically efficient regulatory framework for minerals. If a purpose is to be adopted, it should be 'promoting sustainable management of resources', consistent with the RMA and EEZ legislation.
2) changing the Minister's function to include "(a) to attract permit applications".
This function looks like it has been copied from an insurance salespersons job description. Attracting applications is not the role of the Minister as an impartial statutory decision-maker. It is to impartially and fairly apply the law to applications. The new role suggests that the Minister will be partial rather than impartial towards applications that he/she has "attracted". It is also economically inefficient for the Minister to be "picking winners" which is what an attracting applications role suggests. The economically most efficient approach is complete impartiality of the Minister and the Ministry towards all applications.
3) Clause 31(6) which would add an economic benefits test when Crown land access is decided by the relevant Minister to section 61(2) of the CMA.
I am very opposed to this amendment. The consequence will be to undermine the legal conservation status of the 60% of the conservation estate which is not listed in Schedule 4 of the CMA. If passed, the conservation status will be effectively voided as soon as the two Ministers will decide on the grounds of the economics benefits that mining may proceed.
4) Clause 32 which would make conservation access decisions joint decisions of the Minister of Energy and Conservation.
I am very opposed to this amendment.
The consequence will be to undermine the legal conservation status of the 60% of the conservation estate which is not listed in Schedule 4 of the CMA. If passed, the Minister of Energy is unlikely to be neutral and objective. The present Government and its Ministers are unashamedly prioritising economic development over environmental issues.
For example, Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce has deliberately breached the 'sub judice' rule in his enthusiasm to promote the cause of miner Bathurst Resources in undecided resource consent appeals for the proposed Denniston Escarpment Mine on conservation land (Steven Joyce, 25 September, 2012, 'Minister calls on Bathurst objectors to pull appeals', New Zealand Goverment Media Release http://beehive.govt.nz/release/minister-calls-bathurst-objectors-pull-appeals").
The Minister of Energy Phil Heatley suggested changing the RMA to favour Bathurst in an interview with TV3 (TV3, 28 July 2012, 'Taranaki model for oil & gas exploration – Heatley', http://www.3news.co.nz/Taranaki-model-for-oil--gas-exploration--Heatley/tabid/1356/articleID/262986/Default.aspx).
So I have no confidence that these Ministers can impartially and objectively weigh conservation and economic factors. If the two changes to mining access decisions are implemented, you might as well remove the conservation status of 60% of New Zealand's conservation areas and reclassify them as 'Crown land open for mining', for that is the Government's clear intention in respect of mining. This is completely unacceptable.
The status quo in the CMA should not be changed.
5) I am opposed to changes in how areas are added to Schedule 4 of the CMA. It should remain on the recommendation of the Minister of Conservation. Cabinet and the Minister and the Ministry of Energy and Resources should have no role.
6) I am opposed to the replacement of Schedule 4 and the transfer of it to the Conservation and other acts.