Will Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve Go The Same Way As West Coast Gold Mine?
United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, says there are striking similarities between the Macrae's Mine issue and the
proposed Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve.
"In both cases, the ultimate decision is one for the Minister of Conservation, and in both cases there are inevitable
questions about the role of senior conservation adviser, Kevin Smith, the former director of Forest and Bird."
"As far as the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve proposal is concerned, the role of Mr Smith is potentially even
more controversial than in the Macrae's Mine case."
"The proposal for the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve originated from Forest and Bird which means that if the
Minister makes a decision that is seen to be restrictive of the public interest, the finger will inevitably be pointed
once more at Mr Smith's role."
"All the submissions for and against the proposal are now being reviewed by the Department of Conservation and the
Minister's office, who have to prepare a recommendation, allegedly reflecting the weight of submissions received, for
the Minister to determine."
"However, there is no way of knowing whether, if at all, the officials' recommendation will take any heed of or bears
any resemblance to the public submissions, which will raise the issue of Mr Smith's role once more."
"In the circumstances, the only way in which public confidence can be maintained in the integrity of Ministerial
decisions on matters like the Macrae's Mine and the Wellington South Coast Marine Reserve can be maintained, and Mr
Smith's own reputation safeguarded is for him to publicly stand aside from any involvement in issues like this where
there is any suggestion of his acting in a way that favours the Forest and Bird position," Mr Dunne says.