Friday, August 24, 2012
Fiordland or Disneyland?
John Beattie, Director of FiordlandLink Experience (monorail), wrote a reply to my earlier letter in the Southland Times directed to the Minister of Conservation. He took exception to my "selective approach" that favored conservation over commercial development and oddly referred to section 6 (e) of the Conservation Act as if it somehow justified the construction of his monorail.
This is my reply:
John Beattie (August 24) claimed that I was being very selective in my approach then attempted to do the same thing himself to justify the construction of his monorail.
Interestingly he referred to section 6 (e) of the Conservation Act, as if it opened the door to projects like his own and interprets the phrase "tourism is not inconsistent with its conservation"as meaning anything goes. Until recently there were vigorous controls on new tourist ventures, however one only has to talk to recently retired or sacked former employees of DoC (and there are a number of them since the Government cut the budget by $54 million) to know that the Department is not what it was. Small businesses get hit with the full weight of bureaucracy but large commercial projects appear not to have the same thorough scrutiny.
I am not averse to tourism, and I believe that some commercial activity in our conservation estate is necessary, but I do not want to see our national parks develop into "theme parks" that cater mainly for the rich. Most New Zealanders will not use or benefit from the monorail nor the proposed tunnel and yet we will have to pay for the external costs of roading etc and lose the quality of experience when visiting the parks ourselves.
The World Heritage status of our parks is based on the pristine, unaltered nature of the environment and most tourists want to experience that too and if they don't, there is always Disneyland.