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Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is increasingly showing how hamstrung she is as the Government’s competing coalition priorities continue to go against her, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

The Government claimed in its foundational document the Speech from the Throne that it would not allow new mining on conservation land,” Ms Dowie says.

“But recently, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has acknowledged how vital the extractive industries are for future economic activity on the West Coast and he has dropped some heavy hints that Department of Conservation stewardship land will continue to be available for mining.

“This is at the same time as Labour MP Damien O’Connor is stating that ‘we need to continue with mining in order to construct key infrastructure around the country,’ and the Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods is promoting the potential use of the West Coast as a source of rare minerals which are essential for wind turbines and hybrid cars.

“So which is it? Once again Ms Sage has been found to not have the answers.

“Today in Question Time we saw another clear example of the ideological divisions that are creating uncertainty and halting progress in regional New Zealand.

“National supports sensible steps to protect our environment and reduce our carbon emissions. We oppose mining on high-value conservation land but New Zealand needs a pragmatic and balanced approach to the economy and the environment.

“The Government has shown with its decision to ban oil and gas exploration in Taranaki that it seems intent on undermining New Zealand’s economy and prosperity.

“It’s time for Ms Sage to admit that her Government has misled New Zealanders and that it is now Government policy to allow mining on stewardship land by simply carving it out of the conservation estate. How can regional New Zealand expect to have any certainty when all three coalition parties are expressing competing priorities and policies?”

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