Chalking the opinion of many on the streets of Nelson this morning…
A National Government created Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act in 1997 to protect National Parks from mining.
The Government wants to mine in Kahurangi National Park, a Park created by National while Nick Smith was Conservation Minister and proudly opened in 1996 by Jim Bolger.
So, why does Nick Smith support this move?
Here is Nick’s 1997 speech [not online] when the Schedule was created:
Thursday, November 20, 1997
Hon. NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): In rising to support the third reading of the Bill, I draw the House’s attention to the significance of the final stages of the passage of this legislation. …
This Bill at long last puts some pegs in the sand in some very significant areas of New Zealand and says to the mining industries of New Zealand: “These are no-go areas.”
I draw the House’s attention this afternoon to just how significant that range of areas is. First, we have all those areas that are national parks: areas such as the Abel Tasman National Park, and the national parks of Arthur’s Pass, Egmont, Fiordland, Kahurangi, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook, Nelson Lakes, Paparoa, Tongariro, Te Urewera, Westland, and Whanganui. Those areas total over 3 million hectares of land. This legislation says to the mining industries that those areas set aside as national parks are not appropriate areas for mining.
If one picks up the National Parks Act and sees the quite prohibitive range of activities that is permitted to go on in those areas, one realises that it is certainly consistent with those activities to say that mining should not occur in those areas. In effect, this legislation we are about to pass sets and strengthens that National Parks Act, which dates back to 1980.
This legislation goes further than just national parks. Areas around New Zealand have been set aside as nature reserves, scientific reserves, wilderness areas, sanctuaries, and wildlife sanctuaries. There are areas that have been set aside as Ramsar sites, in terms of the convention on wetlands and highly migratory birds, as well as those areas in the Coromandel that the Alliance member Jeanette Fitzsimons has mentioned. This Bill sets out quite clearly very significant areas of conservation estate in which mining is not allowed. That is something that this House should welcome.
In 1990 National’s manifesto committed it to going down this route. …. the commitment that was made in 1990 to ban mining in national parks was a significant one. … the Bill does provide a mechanism, which has been improved in the Committee stage, whereby additional areas can be added to those that will be provided for in the mining ban.
I also wish to make comment about my New Zealand First colleagues and their attitude to this Bill. Members will note that the coalition agreement specifically mentions the banning of mining in national parks. Again, I would draw to the attention of this House that the Government is honouring a further clause of the coalition agreement by advancing this legislation.
Environmental groups—the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, the Maruia Society, and groups in the Coromandel—have pushed for this legislation for a very long time. I welcome its progress. I want to make reference to the cooperative way in which members on both sides of the House have worked to progress this legislation. ….
This is landmark legislation for the conservation movement in New Zealand. I welcome the Bill’s progress and, as Minister of Conservation, look forward to not having to consider mining applications in those areas where nature should be able to rule the roost.
What’s changed, Nick?