Does he stand by his statement that “I have made it clear that the Government has no intention of mining high-value conservation land”?
What did the Minister’s colleague Nick Smith say to the Minister when he told him that he was considering altering schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act to exclude parts of the Kahurangi National Park in order to allow easier access for mining; and is the Minister, unlike Nick Smith, able to rule out boundary changes for the Kahurangi National Park, or alterations to schedule 4 that would allow easier access for mining within the park?
The answer to that question will ultimately be made by the people of New Zealand, who will be asked to respond to a discussion document that the Government intends to release early next month.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question simply asked the Minister to tell the House what his ministerial colleague Nick Smith had said about Kahurangi National Park, but the question simply was not addressed.
Well, in fairness to the honourable member, the problem I have with members seeking my help with answers to questions is that too often they get up and say on a point of order that “My question was this.”, but in fact there was a whole lot more to the question than that. Ministers are entitled to answer whichever part of a question they choose. Members will observe that where very precise questions are asked, I have been pretty tough on Ministers in requiring them to deliver an answer to those questions. But the discipline lies with the questioner.
Has the Minister seen any statements in support of mining on conservation land?
Yes, I have. I have seen a statement from the Hon Phil Goff, which says: “I think most New Zealanders want to see a balance. They want to see some areas that are less sensitive in the conservation estate available to environmentally sensitive mining.” However, I have also seen a statement from the member who asked the primary question, Mr Charles Chauvel, in which he says: “What we will not do is permit exploration or mining on the conservation estate.” Mr Chauvel seems to forget that under Labour there were no fewer than 82 mines on conservation land. I suggest that Mr Chauvel makes it clear to the House whether he or the Leader of the Opposition speaks for the party.
At any time when Cabinet discussed and considered the issue of mining on conservation land, or any other issue relating to mining or access for mining on Crown land, did Murray McCully or any other Minister declare a conflict of interest and excuse himself from the relevant decisions?
Not to my recollection, and, what is more, at this stage I do not recall that there has been that type of discussion when Mr McCully has been present.
Does he agree that given the value of New Zealand’s oil exports, any proposed oil exploration on schedule 4 land should be treated on a case by case basis and not rejected out of hand in a knee-jerk political reaction?