Collins' wetlands comments outrage environmentalists

Another embarrassment for the Government has lurched out of an interview with Judith Collins over the weekend.

The Justice Minister has outraged environmentalists with her comments about digging up ecologically sensitive wetlands.

In the interview on Sunday, she told 3 News to go and find someone who cared because she didn't.

3 News did find that someone, and it's actually Conservation Minister Nick Smith.

Last week 3rd Degree revealed an estimated $50 million worth of what's known as "black gold" – swamp kauri – has been stocked piled in Northland under the name Oravida Kauri, another business linked to Oravida and Ms Collins' husband.

Numerous companies, not just Oravida, are involved in selling swamp kauri, and environmentalists claim much of it is extracted from protected wetlands.

According to the Department of Conservation's website, wetlands "are one of our richest natural assets – or were. We're only just beginning to understand the many reasons why we should have left them alone."

Ms Collins said she had no idea environmentalists were concerned about digging up wetland areas.

While it is illegal to export raw native timber, 3 News understands Oravida is planning to set up a processing plant so it can send the Kauri offshore as a finished product.

Ms Collins said the concerns have nothing to do with her.

"Does that have anything to do with me? Am I the minister of wetlands? Go and find someone who actually cares about this, because I don't," she said.

"There's a large number of our birds that depend on wetlands for their survival," said Dr Smith.

"It's not my issue. I don't like wetlands – they're swamps," said Ms Collins.

This is all comes less than a month after the Victoria Forest Park controversy, when Energy Minister Simon Bridges signed off the biggest forest park in the country for oil exploration, despite never having heard of it.

3 News

source: newshub archive