Miners from the West Coast and Huntly are protesting at parliament about job losses while Bathurst is battling its way through the consent process with a project which would provide jobs.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is right when he calls on environmentalists who are fighting consents to think about the economic opportunities.
“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away,” Mr Joyce says.
“The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
“These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years.
“I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.
Environmentalists won the battle against sustainable logging on the Coast at the cost of many jobs – and pest control – and now they’re also wanting to stop mining even though the region desperately needs the jobs.
Few if any would call an open cast mine attractive but it will cover a relatively small area and the company can be required to leave the area in at least as good a state as it was before it started the project.
“I also call on the EPMU, Labour and the Greens to join my call and back the West Coast community by supporting the immediate development of the Escarpment Mine.
“The political opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t on one hand moan about job losses and then on the other not support initiatives that would create the sort of jobs that they’re asking for.
“If we are serious about jobs and providing incomes on the West Coast then objectors should stop getting in the way of this immediate opportunity to create those jobs.”
There are more votes from the urban greens than West Coast reds so don’t hold your breath waiting for Labour to support the Minister’s call.
However, it purports to be the workers’ party and it’s MPs won’t be averse to photo opportunities with the protesters.
As for the EPMU, will it have the intestinal fortitude to show it really is representing workers and back the job creation or will politics come before people for it too?