Jan 19, 2012

Shane Jones on asset sales and mining

You might remember Shane Jones’ bout of honesty following Labour’s election defeat. Jones came out saying that Labour got beat and beat good. Jones advocated a new approach and a period of reflection. The media and the commentariat praised him for his willingness to be upfront with the public and his party. However, towards the end of December Jones stretched his honesty a little far. Firstly, he came out effectively endorsing iwi looking to invest in state assets. A few days later Jones, as Labour’s regional development spokesperson, moved to champion mining for job starved areas.

I don’t think it was a sensible move to come out and effectively endorse iwi investment in state assets. Yes, Jones is of the northern conservative breed. He is also a product of iwi politics. But his comments go against Labour’s strong opposition and Maori opposition to asset sales. Labour does not need to cosy up to iwi. Iwi have an agenda and furthering that agenda will always involve cultivating a cosy relationship with the government of the day. Shane Jones, and the rest of the Maori caucus for that matter, would be better served advocating a different approach for iwi. Labour should publicly lobby iwi to invest in their own people. The line doesn’t mean much, but it goes down hella well with Maori.

The less sensible move was Jones’ mining advocacy. Mining is an economic solution for dry minds. It’s also bad politics. Mining is an idea that is in conflict with Maori values. It runs against the idea of kaitiakitanga and most other Maori values you can think of. It also runs against Kiwi values and Labour’s new direction. David Shearer is promoting Labour’s vision for a “clean, green, clever” economy. Surely that economy will exclude dirty extractive industries. Jones would also do well to remember that the largest protest in a generation was against mining.

Shane Jones is now the highest ranked Maori in Labour. So basically the spokesperson for all issues Maori. I hope Jones’ form recently is not something to go by. If it is, Labour’s going to have a hard time.


  1. "Mining is an economic solution for dry minds."

    Why? How could mining possibly be bad when just about everything that you own comes from mining. From the steel in your car to the battery in your cellphone, it's influence is everywhere. I agree that mining is not ideal however the world needs raw materials. And mining, so far, is the only way of getting them.

    And so how does any advocacy of mining relate to dry minds? One could argue that a refusal to acknowledge the place mining has in our global culture is evidence of an "Atacama Desert-like" mind.

    If you are really anti-mining (and I'm not having a go at you Morgan) then throw all that you gain as a person, as a culture, as a community - throw that all away and see what you are left with. See how you can progress us all without it.

    Granted that THE WAY we mine in horrendous; the cost to the environment - both ecological and sociological - define us at the moment as lacklustre when choosing our future. However the key must be, as in all things, moderation and respect. Moderation as in not taking all that is on offer - sometimes there is other considerations above mere money that are important - and respect for the earth we live on and the generations to come. If we are to progress as a species, mining is essential for this.

    I feel dirty having to advocate for mining but not recognising it's inherent value to human culture - not just ours - would be inexcusable.

  2. If stopping mining means stop globalisation, consumerism, militarisation and capitalism then that's a good thing. We might just live longer at the expense of no cellphone and car. I'm willing to make that trade.

  3. There's mining and there's mining. Yes, mining is integral to the contemporary economy - your bog-standard computer contains aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, palladium, platinum, selenium, silver, and zinc. Stuff which ain't growing on trees. (Which is not to say that heavy metals can't be harvested... check out Tuhoe scientist Dr. Amanda Blacks PhD thesis on bioavailability).

    What we're now painfully aware of is the naked greed of all corporations in avoiding taxes, minimising regulatory oversight, including safety (I recall the words of a Pike River observer: 'Mining safety regs are written in blood'), and basically being bad planetary citizens!

    Labour still seems lost to me, their moral compass still scrambled from a generation of neoliberalism.

  4. Shanes Jones is a has been already. Who will ever forget his spending of public funds on porno movies?

  5. Yeah—and we’re not talking about “precious metals” in the New Zealand context, we’re talking about lignite coal which is a very low value energy asset. I completely agree that this form of mining is the last resort of the feeble and unimaginative, and goes against all values of guardianship and respect for future generations.



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