LABOUR WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR MARINE PARK

  • Nick Smith
Conservation

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is bitterly disappointed at Labour's decision today to vote against the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill and said the Government had withdrawn the Bill from further consideration until the new Parliament is elected.

"This is a huge disappointment and a lost opportunity for Auckland. The Park could have been established prior to the hosting of the America's Cup and the millennium celebrations. National had set aside the time for the House to conclude the final stages of the Bill. On 1 October their spokesperson Judith Tizard said "the Labour Party is pleased with improvements made to the Marine Park Bill and will support its passage into law" Barrier Bulletin, 1 October 1999 ."

"Every effort has been made to try and persuade Labour to stand by their previous statements to support the Bill. I have been particularly grateful for the efforts of Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey and Auckland Mayor Christine Fletcher, to achieve this. I have sought meetings with Labour Leader Helen Clark but she refused to meet with me to find a resolution. Labour finally advised me this afternoon that they would vote against the Bill."

"I find Labour's about face particularly galling when they have stated that if in Government post-election they will immediately pass the Bill. That they've said to Park supporters they don't want National getting any credit for
establishing the Park shows they are more interested in petty politicking than advancing Auckland's interests."

"I am also saddened that HMNZS Tamaki has been used as an excuse by Labour to halt the Bill's progress. Offers to completely withdraw any reference to this area have been declined. Sadly, there is now no mechanism to establish the historic reserve along the cliff-top to give Aucklanders access to this prime viewing of the America's Cup. I remain committed to doing this, but it will now have to go through the Reserves Act process."

"The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is a good idea whose time has come. National's top priority following the election will be to get the numbers to pass the Bill. I am confident the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is not dead, just delayed."