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Forest & Bird is today reiterating its call for urgent action to stop new mines on conservation land, after the Prime Minister re-stated Labour’s commitment to the policy. 

At the post-cabinet press conference on the 8th of May, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed that the Labour government remains committed to the promise made by his predecessor Jacinda Ardern of no new mines on public conservation land. 

The full transcript is available here, but this is the key exchange: 

  • Media: “Prime Minister, given previous pledges by your predecessor, under what circumstances would Labour support mining on conservation land?” 
  • PM: “Our policy on that hasn’t changed. So I don’t have it right in front of me at the moment, but our policy on that has not changed; it will be the same.” 

“It is reassuring that the Prime Minister remains committed to the policy of no new mines on conservation land, but we need to move from policy to action. Labour has been promising this since 2017, and six years is too long in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis,” says George Hobson, Forest & Bird conservation advocacy officer.  

“New mines continue to be allowed on conservation land, and native species continue to suffer.” 

Since 2017, at least 78 mining access arrangements on conservation land have been granted, with more exploration and prospecting permits covering over 150,000 ha of conservation land. Approved mining activities on conservation land include exploratory drilling for tungsten near Glenorchy; gold exploration in the Coromandel; and permits granted across Northland, Rotorua and the West Coast to a billionaire Aussie mining magnate. 

“The government has declared a climate emergency, and Stats NZ recently reported that 94 percent of our reptile species, 82 percent of bird species, 80 percent of bat species, 76 percent of freshwater fish species, and 46 percent of vascular plant species are either facing extinction or are at risk of being threatened with extinction.  

“Prime Minister Hipkins and his government need to urgently stop new mines on conservation land.” says Mr Hobson.  

In late 2022, Forest & Bird released the results of a representative poll which show that two thirds of New Zealanders want Labour to follow through on its 2017 promise. 

In early 2023, Labour committed to drafting a Bill which would give effect to its promise of no new mines on public conservation land. However, the government refuses to provide a timeline for the drafting of the Bill and the passing of it into law. 

“We are happy that the PM has confirmed the government remains committed to this important issue, but the question remains: when will he, and his government, listen to New Zealanders and follow through on the promise of no new mines?” asks Mr Hobson. 

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