Govt facing battle over mining plans
Encouraged by 40,000 people turning out in Auckland to protest against mining conservation land, Labour and the Greens are firing questions at ministers in Parliament.They're expected to try again today to drive a wedge between Energy Minister Gerry Brown
Encouraged by 40,000 people turning out in Auckland to protest against mining conservation land, Labour and the Greens are firing questions at ministers in Parliament.
They're expected to try again today to drive a wedge between Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, who they say has a public responsibility to oppose plans to open some schedule four land for mining valuable minerals.
Mr Brownlee says he hopes the Auckland marchers understand the proposal covers only 7058 hectares and the Government is going to put an extra 12,000ha into schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act, which protects it from mining.
"It is a very, very moderate and modest proposal to enable further exploration in those areas, it's not a commitment to mining in those areas," he said yesterday.
Mr Brownlee doesn't think all the 40,000 were protesting against the proposals. He says genetic engineering signs were being waved as well "and it may have been a good opportunity for people to air various different grievances."
The proposals are out for public discussion and the government last week extended by three weeks the deadline for submissions.
Labour says ministers are afraid to make final decisions and the extension is to give them some space for what is obviously an unpopular move.
Mr Brownlee says he doesn't want to rush things.
The Greens believe the proposal to open some of Great Barrier Island is a bluff, put into the proposals so there is something to give away. Mr Brownlee is being asked when he's going to "bail out" on Great Barrier.
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