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National MP against Great Barrier mining

Published: 8:52AM Tuesday March 23, 2010 Source: ONE News/NZPA

There is dissension in the government's ranks over plans to open up 7,000 hectares of prime conservation land to mining.

Beneath the beauty of Great Barrier Island lies a treasure trove of gold and silver but tapping into it is creating a political powder keg.
National's Auckland Central MP, Nikki Kaye, is fighting the idea of miners on Great Barrier, saying the economic argument does not stack up.

The Auckland Central MP is telling her own party "not in my backyard".

"I'm going to be getting out there talking to my constituents but at the moment I don't think the case stacks up for Great Barrier Island," says Kaye.

Focusing on Great Barrier's inclusion in the proposal and the 705ha which would be removed from section four status, Kaye says she considers it a step too far.

"My personal view is that when environmental and economic factors are taken into account and given the island's status in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, mining on Great Barrier Island doesn't stack up," she says.

"I'll be strongly advocating that position to my colleagues in the government."

Kaye says people have a chance to have their say during the consultation period and she encourages as many as possible to do so through the submission process.

Kaye's colleagues from mining towns certainly have different views.

"As a local MP, I'd be delighted if the mine went ahead, it would be good for the region," says National, West Coast-Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole.

National Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie also agrees saying there is already mining in Coromandel and there has not been an outcry over that.

John key supports his electorate MPs speaking out.  

"We don't try and mute our MPs in that particular instance. Their voice is as strong as anyone else's voice," he says.

However, a law change is not needed to allow mining on Great Barrier so Kaye's loyalty will not be tested by having to vote against her party.

Labour Leader Phil Goff questions why the issue of mining conservation land was not heard before the election.

"I've got no doubt that they talked very closely to the mining lobbyists, they just forgot to tell New Zealanders before the election that they were going to mine the most beautiful and most important recreational areas in the region," he says.

In the House Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee hit back with a bit of Labour history.

"I well remember at the start of last year the Labour Party going back to their roots in Blackball on the West Coast celebrating the fact that their party was born out of the mining industry, so don't tell us that there's any grandstanding going on, on this side of the house."
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