Great Barrier Island New Zealand
The recently elected New Zealand Government is going ahead with a number of initiatives which I really don't like, but let me concentrate on one of their dumbest ideas.
One of the most idiotic ideas that anyone has proposed for years has been announced.
There is a proposal to take land off the schedule four list. Land on the schedule four list is land that is crown land within our National Parks. In tandem with this proposal is to fund a multimillion dollar investigation into a cost benefit analysis of MINING land within New Zealands National Parks. The areas being investigated are on Great Barrier Island, The Coromandel Peninsula and areas within our national parks in the South Island of NZ. Of course this will do nothing for New Zealands clean green image and many are saying that damaging our image will damage our tourism industry and 'Brand NZ' (whatever that money making dipstick factoid means) - Of course they are going to have a fight on their hands over this one.
The rationale for mining by this mammon worshipping government is that the benefits will increase the net worth of everyone and help us catch up economically with Australia which relies pretty much on being an open cast mine for much of its wealth - and if we have to rip the guts out of our National Parks to be like them - well, so be it. It makes me want to weep.
But! will mining our National Parks actually achieve this economic goal?
I recently read an article by Professor Bryan Gould, Vice-Chancellor, University of Waikato, New Zealand. He pointed out that countries that come across vast wealth may not in the long run reap the benefits that they envisioned unless they are very aware of some of the economic impacts this wealth has on an economy. He talked about an impact that happened in the UK and in Europe which is termed the 'Dutch Disease'.........
........The de-industrialization of a nation's economy that occurs when the discovery of a natural resource raises the value of that nation's currency, making manufactured goods less competitive with other nations, increasing imports and decreasing exports. The term originated in Holland after the discovery of North Sea gas. It is well documented that this happened in Britain which closed a lot of its manufacturing base because of the effect of oil riches on the British currency.
Apparently because of this effect the only country to benefit from North Sea oil in the long run has been the Norwegians who were able to 'ring fence' the riches from the oil and invest it on Norways behalf and keep that money from influencing Norway's currency. Britain and other European countries apparently have endured this Dutch Disease effect to the extent of having a nil gain overall economically. But surely these Norwegian riches were only able to be gathered because the mining company was owned by Norway? The move here is to open mining up to mulitnational companies with 95% of the profits going to overseas investors. Where is the wealth for New Zealand in all of this? - the jobs and infrastructure that come with this mining despoilation of our environment will only be transitory.
But putting aside economic arguments aren't there greater values at stake here? Values that are mistaken for intangible values when in fact they are very tangible - Values of the spirit. Values to do with our humanity. Values which honour our natural world, a world on which we all ultimately depend as a species for our very survival ?
I read something on a poster a few weeks ago that sums up in a more succinct way what I am trying to say here. It is an old Cree Indian Prophecy:
"Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.