Hughes a 'mollyhawk' - Jones

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 14:00 10/03/2014

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Labour economic development spokesman Shane Jones has taken a swipe at the Greens, calling ocean spokesman Gareth Hughes a "mollyhawk" for comments Jones says "undermine" the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A hearing began today to consider an application by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine iron ore from the seabed off the west coast of the North Island.

TTR wants to extract up to 50 million tonnes of sediment per year, processing it aboard a vessel.

About 5 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate would be exported. The mining would cover an area of 65.76 square kilometres in the South Taranaki Bight.

The EPA received 4848 submissions, including 140 late submissions. Only eight submissions supported the application.

Hughes said he hoped the EPA would take into consideration all submissions, before deciding whether to allow the mining to go ahead.

The Greens also called for a moratorium on all seabed mining until it was proved "unequivocally safe".

Hughes said he'd written to the parliamentary commissioner for the environment, calling for a delay while more research was gathered.

Vacuuming the top 20 metres of the seabed using a dredge would kill anything it came into with. Fifty million tonnes of sediment released back into the environment could have huge impacts on Maui's dolphins, blue whales, coastal erosion and property values, Hughes said.

Jones used an interview on Radio Waatea today to take a swing at Labour's potential coalition partner, saying its activist stance was inappropriate for a government-in-waiting.

"Minerals and exploration is an essential part of the economy and the process shouldn't be undermined by political commentary," he said.

"There's a standard to be observed between parliamentary figures and state bodies.

"I've been warned not to crisscross the Commerce Commission investigation, if it's good enough for me as the Labour economic development spokesman, then it's good enough for Gareth Hughes."

Jones is assisting with a Commerce Commission investigation into alleged extortion tactics by supermarket Countdown.

He has used parliamentary privilege to allege the company was demanding cash payments from Kiwi suppliers for past losses, with the threat of being blacklisted if they refused or spoke of the demands.

The independent commission is investigating those claims.

The EPA was also independent from the Government, and Jones said governments-in-waiting needed to observe constitutional proprieties.

Hughes' contributions were unhelpful, and "carrying on like a mollyhawk" would not achieve anything, he said.

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