Reaction from Labour and the Greens to Nick Smith's announcement

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Media Statements - Labour Party and Green Party

Ruth DYSON - Conservation Spokesperson - Labour Party

Pressure on Nick Smith to make the right call

Nick Smith’s decision to take back the decisions on both the Fiordland Tunnel and the monorail proposals confirms my call for them to be made at Ministerial level but it comes with considerable risk, Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson, said.

“These proposals are significant and impact on both National Parks and World Heritage areas.  The decisions should never have been delegated to the Department. 

“However, the decisions were due to have been announced before Christmas last year, public submissions have been heard, and the Departmental report has been written.  The Minister is taking a considerable legal risk in intervening in the process at this stage.

“It is highly unusual for a decision maker to change partway through a process.  It would have been proper for the Minister to announce that he believed that the decision should not have been delegated, and to start the process afresh.  He has chosen not to follow that path.

“The eyes of the conservation world will be on Nick Smith now.  The people of Fiordland have been staunchly opposed to these proposals.  The risk of making the wrong decision in terms of valuing conservation is as high as the risk of intervening partway through this process.

“I hope that the Minister makes the correct decision and ensures that this superb part of our country is left as it is – to attract tourists, to provide New Zealanders with an experience not able to be replicated anywhere else, and for us to truly demonstrate that the 100% pure brand is true – at least in some parts of our country.

“There are very high expectations of the Minister in this regard.  New Zealanders should not be let down by his decisions.”

Contact:  Ruth Dyson 027 4461674

Eugenie SAGE - Conservation Spokesperson - Green Party

Conservation legislation about protecting not trading away nature

The Green Party today cautiously welcomed the announcement that the Minister of Conservation, rather than a second tier Department of Conservation official, will make the decisions on the proposed Routeburn tunnel and the Southland monorail. “The Green Party called for this to happen last year, and at the time the Government rejected it”, Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“The Minister must ensure he applies the correct legal tests when considering the Routeburn tunnel and the Southland monorail proposals.

“The correct decision under the Conservation and National Parks Acts would be to decline both applications because they are contrary to the purpose of both acts and our national park management plans that have been developed with public input.

 “Conservation legislation is about protecting our national parks, not trading away their integrity for a few short-term construction and earthmoving jobs as the Minister’s comments suggest he can do by "balancing" economic development and  conservation."

Ms Sage said that the 11.3 km Routeburn tunnel involved the equivalent of mining in two national parks because of the large volume of waste rock it would produce. Furthermore, the Southland monorail would require extensive logging of red beech forest and clearance in steep country in Snowdon Forest, an easy to access area near the Mavora Lakes popular for family tramping and camping.

“There is significant public opposition to both proposals because of their impacts on Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks and the internationally important South West New Zealand Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area,” said Ms Sage.

“New Zealanders love and want to protect our national parks.”

Parliament’s Local Government and Environment select committee is considering a petition to stop the Routeburn tunnel supported by more than 24,000 online signatures.

Reference: Govt refuses to allow Conservation Minister to decide on the proposals: http://www.greens.org.nz/oralquestions/eugenie-sage-questions-minister-conservation-dart-tunnel

For more information: Eugenie Sage MP, 021 155 3937