Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says it is amazing that DOC is even contemplating allowing the building of a privately owned and operated road and tunnel, spanning not one but two of New Zealand’s National Parks, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.
“This is the world renowned Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, designated as such because of its unspoiled natural forests,” says Ms Murray.
The Alliance contends there is no place for such an invasive commercial enterprise in a National Park, much less a World Heritage Area.
“When National talked about partial asset sales I don’t think anyone realized that might include carving up some of our National Parks.”
The developers argument that the road and tunnel will benefit the environment is laughable, likewise the claim that it will benefit New Zealand tourism, says Ms Murray.
“It will benefit the owners of the road and tunnel who will be looking to make a handsome profit by charging coach operators and tourists for using it.”
In the short term the losers will be the tourist operators between Queenstown and Te Anau, possibly even as far afield as Invercargill. It may be that everyone loses because tourists simply shorten their stay in New Zealand.
But long term, the biggest losers will be the future generations of New Zealanders these parks were set aside for, says Ms Murray.
The Alliance agrees with Southland District Council mayor Frana Cardno, that this project must not be allowed to proceed
The Alliance urges the public to make their views known to DOC when submissions are called for, possibly as early as next week.
“If this plan goes ahead it will set a precedent. None of our National Parks will be safe from big business,” says Ms Murray.