Yours, not mines

Labour’s campaign against mining Schedule 4 land looks strong, especially at the iconographic level.

The slogan and to an extent the photo frames the issue as a matter of identity, echoing Phil Goff’s “the many, not the few” and Phil Twyford’s “not yours to sell” (though the visual style has come a long way since that campaign, and there’s some subject-object confusion). It also echoes Iwi/Kiwi, undoubtedly the most effective campaign of this sort in recent memory. The hard economic matters — the cost-benefit analysis between mining and tourism and so on — are there, as they should be, but backgrounded to the symbolic concerns.

Goff is clear that he’s not anti-mining, but wants to focus on the 60% of mineral resources outside the DOC estate. That’s the crucial point to make because it draws a bright line between acceptable and unacceptable which is still well north of Schedule 4 — to cross that line the government must first gain electoral consent to mine DOC land, and having done that must gain consent to mine the most precious areas of that estate. The point isn’t that mining is all bad; the point is that mining conservation land is worse than the alternatives. The job of the opposition, environmentalists and anyone who loves the fact that NZ still has wild places which are sacrosanct, or who thinks of those places as a part of them, is to relegate the idea of mining them to the political too-hard basket.

Labour and the Greens are also well-coordinated on this, with Metiria Turei pointing out the government’s duplicity in not revealing its intent to mine areas on Great Barrier Island which are under Treaty negotiations. The māori party should get in on this, as well. It looks good.


7 thoughts on “Yours, not mines

  1. I think it’s a weak image – it’s obvious, ‘on the nose’, they’re still copying the structure of the old Iwi/Kiwi billboards, and it looks like it was drummed up by an angry teenager using photoshop.

  2. I like the image because it’s pretty much irrefutable.

    By not using a picture of an open pit, or an iconic piece of scenery it doesn’t allow any of National’s spin to get a foothold, either in response by National (hysteria! no it ain’t) or in the viewers reaction to the image which will already be primed by National’s spin.

    It takes National’s spin, ‘Surgical mining’, ‘less valuable land’, and shows what that still means. And it does it by highlighting the effects away from the mine site itself, which leaves the mine off screen and in the minds eye.

    It’s exactly what Key has been asking for, a rational non-hysterical debate, and it says not one square millimeter of these lands, and here’s why.

  3. do you think there is a clear and absolute distinction between conservation land that should never be mined and conservation land that could be mined in some circumstances?

    Sch 4 is a construct. There must be areas where economic factors might outweigh environmental ones.

    One scale of things there is land that most people would accept might be mined and at the other end land that most people think should never be mined. Is there nothing in between?

  4. Pingback: Labour on mining. Brownlee on bullshit. « The Standard

  5. we’re not going to agree on this, but what is Labour’s position on mining non-sch 4 conservation land. Seems to be unclear.

  6. Looks like this decision opens up a good opportunity for some “defense of right/moral authority” activism….

  7. Pablo, yeah. I reckon we’ll see people chaining themselves to those bulldozers if this all comes to the intended conclusion.

    Danyl, the image gets some of its resonance from the resemblance to iwi/kiwi.

    Neil, sure — Schedule 4 can be rewritten or the criteria re-examined. But that process needs to be divorced from a policy objective — that is, to be anything other than an obvious stitch-up, it needs to be undertaken separately from a plan to expand the mining industry in NZ. It should be bipartisan, and it should be done in good faith — not as a matter of executive privilege after the sort of consultation which is really just an exercise in assessing the probable expenditure of political capital which will be required to enact the predetermined policy agenda.


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