Pressure on Nick Smith to make the right call

Nick Smith’s decision to take back the decisions on both the Fiordland Tunnel and the monorail proposals confirms my call for them to be made at Ministerial level but it comes with considerable risk, Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson, said.

“These proposals are significant and impact on both National Parks and World Heritage areas.  The decisions should never have been delegated to the Department. 

“However, the decisions were due to have been announced before Christmas last year, public submissions have been heard, and the Departmental report has been written.  The Minister is taking a considerable legal risk in intervening in the process at this stage.

“It is highly unusual for a decision maker to change partway through a process.  It would have been proper for the Minister to announce that he believed that the decision should not have been delegated, and to start the process afresh.  He has chosen not to follow that path.

“The eyes of the conservation world will be on Nick Smith now.  The people of Fiordland have been staunchly opposed to these proposals.  The risk of making the wrong decision in terms of valuing conservation is as high as the risk of intervening partway through this process.

“I hope that the Minister makes the correct decision and ensures that this superb part of our country is left as it is – to attract tourists, to provide New Zealanders with an experience not able to be replicated anywhere else, and for us to truly demonstrate that the 100% pure brand is true – at least in some parts of our country.

“There are very high expectations of the Minister in this regard.  New Zealanders should not be let down by his decisions.”