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Q+A: Panel discusses Baker & Bellingham interview

Published: 3:06PM Sunday May 30, 2010 Source: Q+A

Panel response to Q+A interview with Straterra CEO Chris Baker and Forest & Bird's Mark Bellingham.

PAUL HOLMES Chris Baker makes a compelling argument doesn't he Fran that you know if we're gonna pay for the hospitals, if we want to keep the pension at 67 max, save, we've gotta pay for all of the baby boomers getting old, we've got to have more money, where's it gonna come from? Let's mine a bit of Schedule 4 is that he's saying, let's have a look at it.

FRAN O'SULLIVAN - NZ Herald Columnist
Yeah I think there's nothing wrong with actually having a look at it, even though it is sitting in Schedule 4. Clearly the politics are going against the government on this one at the moment, but my feeling is that we may over time, see something happening on the West Coast. Well let's face the local populace understand the benefits of mining. It understands what it does to their own future.

PAUL The politics of 30,000 submissions, you can be sure they won't all be in support of it Nigel?

NIGEL ROBERTS - Political Scientist
No they won't, there'll be a lot who of course have just signed a postcard and things, but I think that the politics of the activists is overwhelmingly against it. I think the government is in a very difficult position, I don't think Gerry Brownlee handled it very well to introduce it. I think he introduced it clumsily. It seems to me that one thing that confuses people is this whole thing what is Schedule 4? Schedule 4 is national parks plus other areas that have been put into Schedule 4 from 1997 onwards. It seems to me the one thing the government could do to smooth its path to say we will not permit any mining in national parks, make that quite clear and then move on to debate the other lands, but there are some very sensitive other lands in Schedule 4 as well.

SUE BRADFORD - Former Green Party MP
I think it's a gonner politically. Back in 1997 the National government then supported Schedule 4 as you pointed out, including people like Nick Smith saying we won't have to debate this again.

PAUL He implied that now that we've passed this in 97 he effectively said Conservation Ministers will no longer have the hassle &

SUE Of having to debate it, and his own party has led the charge on this, it's ridiculous and I just think it's a tribute to the activists out there that so many marched in Queen Street a few weeks ago and that there are 35,000 submissions in front of that poor select committee.

PAUL Sue what about the idea though, that you know you're the first person who wants the hospitals, you want the beneficiaries to be better off and so forth, you know you want better circumstances for low paid, where's the money gonna come from?

SUE Well it's not gonna come from mining in the national parks, and I think Mark Bellingham made that point really clearly, that there's a trade off between what we'd lose from tourism. There's no way we'd make that up by turning parts of the Coromandel into what's happened at Waihi or what's happened at Stockton, it's ridiculous.

PAUL The other thing is I spose I mean if you were to let the mining into Schedule 4 you'll have political argument for years.

FRAN Yes probably so, but I mean we're also about to embark on a whole pile of other debates around mining when we look at the iron sands on the West Coast, these sorts of things, where you've got international companies, local companies, wanting to partner up with Iwi. I think actually a lot of the change that will come, that I would regard as progressive in these sorts of areas, will come from Iwi wanting a slice of the action, and wanting to do state/Iwi deals and I think over time, over say a 10, 30 year period, we are going to get mined.

PAUL You said that once before when you were here didn't you?

FRAN I did, and I was right, they want part of KiwiBank too.

PAUL Nigel Roberts, stories coming out this week, what would you be interested in in the week ahead?

NIGEL Well in the week ahead I'm actually looking forward slightly into the next week and another lot of submissions closed, and that's submissions on the 2011 referendum bill, and I think that a lot of people will be working in the week ahead to finalise submissions because it's of fundamental importance to the country, it's a major constitutional plank, what type of electoral system we have, and we're revisiting it. I think the government - here Simon Power I'd say has acted extremely well, he's been very cautious, he's been thoughtful and the government is now through the Select Committee process, going to be debating the measures that they've introduced.

PAUL What you'll be looking at this week, Sue Bradford?

SUE Like Nigel a week ahead from next week, but the Welfare Working Group, very controversial body from some points of view is holding a national forum in Wellington, on the 9th and 10th of June and I'd just say for anyone that's concerned about where the government is going with the reform of welfare, including the possible introduction of employment insurance, a form of privatisation of the welfare system, I'd love to see you come to the forum, I'm gonna be there and I hope that will have a really good debate, because the Welfare Working Group is not a balanced body, and I'd really like to see a lot more people who care about the future welfare in this country coming together in Wellington and have a really good look at it.

PAUL Enjoying being out of politics?

SUE Certainly, not out of politics Paul. Just out of parliament, it's quite a different thing.

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