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2013年7月23日 (火)

Rejected the Milford tunnel proposal

The conservation minister was involved in founding the Bluegreens, National's environment policy wing, in the 1990s.
He's the most nature-friendly minister in cabinet by a country mile, otter case and his party needs him.
There are votes in this, and the government must rid itself of the perception that it has an obsessive focus on economic gains at just about any cost.
It learned a hard lesson in its first term when it had to scrap plans to allow mining on schedule four conservation land after a public outcry, and it's been struggling to be taken seriously on environmental issues ever since.
Smith wants to be taken seriously, and showed it when he rejected the 11km, $180 million Milford tunnel project on the grounds that its environmental impact would be too great.
Milford Dart Ltd, the company that wanted to cut it beneath Mt Aspiring and Fiordland national parks, had argued that halving the travel time between Milford and Queenstown would draw in many more tourists.
Maybe it would, but Smith didn't think that was worth spreading half a million tonnes of rock and soil across two of New Zealand's most pristine national parks.
Conservation groups heaped praise on him and people living in the small towns that would have been affected were overjoyed.
Labour was silent while the Greens were honest enough to offer a rare "well done".
The opposition parties will still scoff at the government's credentials, but Smith has just made their claims that National never cares about the environment a bit harder to justify fr4 pcb.
His next challenge is the monorail proposal.
Put up by Riverstone Holdings Ltd, it's part of an ambitious project called the Fiordland Link Experience which involves high-speed catamarans on Lake Wakatipu and would go through parts of the national parks.
On Wednesday Smith urged media not to draw any conclusions about the monorail because he had turned down the tunnel.
But he added: "There's a very high threshold for engineering works in national parks."
A decision is still a long way off. Smith has to receive and study numerous reports from his officials.
Don't be surprised if it stretches into 2014, which is an election year.
The big win from the tunnel project veto followed the government throwing its weight and money behind Auckland's long-term road and rail plan.
An opinion poll released on Thursday showed National gaining support, label sticker up half a point to 47 per cent.
Labour dropped half a point to 31 per cent and the Greens went down from 13 per cent to 11.5 per cent.
The government's gain was attributed mainly to the Auckland announcement, and the Milford tunnel decision could show up as another positive in the next round of polls.
It badly needed some good news after the GCSB and Novopay debacles. Smith has done his bit.

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