Whos bottomline?

I miss Kim Jong Il. The firing of scud missiles at moving targets or into the sea; just because. The sweeping declarations devoid of any cohesive policy or democratic process. But most of all I miss the marvellous unadulterated arrogance of someone who just knows that he … well, rules. Absolutely.

Then I remembered that we have our own dear leader: Wayne Brown.

Wayne is not as impressive as Kim. For a start he lacks nuclear missiles. But for how long? With his grinning bonhomie and random lobbying of verbal nukes to those who are concerned about such lame issues as sustainability– Wayne is more like Kim and Ronald McDonald’s love child.

Being the mining industry’s poster boy for Northland is not surprising. Mining doesn’t go for independent or community minded thinkers. Internationally it does well in poor, politically under-represented populations where low literacy and transience make it difficult to build true consensus. Places like Papua New Guinea and Guatemala. Northland is ripe for a mining boom then.

While Wayne was away touting our mineral wares at a mining symposium in Canada I wondered how much support the tourism industry has had lately. Wayne’s rant regarding the poor state of Northland’s schools, hospitals and infrastructure is indicative of Wayne’s misconceived powers. Schools and hospitals are like they are because they are funded from Wellington and we don’t have the political clout in the form of locally based MP’s to advocate on our behalf.

Councils are not in charge of schools or hospitals and can do nothing to affect them. Is Wayne going to personally see to it that mining royalties go to Northland schools? Phil Heatley himself told me recently that he was ‘in charge of all of that now’ – meaning; mining. I wanted to congratulate him on graduation to the big boy’s pants of portfolios but felt a sceptical despair.

A community needs an independent thinker who will best represent the genuine needs of that community and work hard to serve them. Not a party policy rubber stamper. Phil’s licence plate says ‘Work For You’. Judging by Wayne’s condemnation of the state of things here Phil has hardly broken a sweat. But then maybe the license plate isn’t aimed at the schools and the hospitals. I just hoped it’s not aimed at the mining companies and those who are lining up to work for them.

Wayne’s brochure; ‘Explore Northland Minerals’ touted only two companies; Culham Engineering and McKay. Were there others who’d be interested in a piece of the action?

As for Sonny Tau’s assertion that iwi should have been consulted – he can now rest easy knowing that Wayne has done things ‘the right way’ and that iwi will be consulted ‘at the right time.’ In Wayne’s world. The National Party’s website filed in late Feb says the first consultation was this month, the next is April with exploration permits granted in May. I hope someone told Mr. Tau.
Anyone with a problem with that can dial 0800 438-382533.

These old-school back room deals and then a public press release are getting really old.

At least the boys doing the aerial surveying for Wayne’s mineral report had a sense of humour. I asked them what they were up to and they said: “Counting squirrels.” “Secret ones?” “Yeah.” Wayne is right though. We all have to get a grip. I hope he doesn’t mean by this that we have to white knuckle it through a faux democratic process where all the journalists have gone over to the dark arts of media relations for the mining companies and the only real consulting that’s done is with PR. Northland can do better for her people.

The question is; can mining do this and what accountability lies with local politicians if our expectations of social and environmental responsibility are not met by the mining companies whose interest can only ever be the bottom line?

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