Milford Dart Tunnel inevitably a political decision - Key

By Kate Shuttleworth, Otago Daily Times

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Otago Daily Times

It was inevitable a decision on the future of the Milford Dart Tunnel and Fiordland Link Experience would be a political one, Prime Minister John Key says.

It was announced yesterday that a final decision on the two proposals would be decided by Conservation Minister Nick Smith.

"I think he's taken a sensible step - these are political decisions for which the Government will always be criticised whether it makes the decision or not," Mr Key said today.

Mr Key, as Minister of Tourism, said his ministry would make a submission on the two high-profile projects, but he would not say if he thought the proposals to open up access to Milford Sound would be good for tourism.

"In the end it's very hard to take the politics out of these decisions - they are quite big decisions,'' he said.

Dr Smith said yesterday his decision was consistent with the powers of delegation where the director general of conservation should refer matters of national interest or involving significant environment, social or economic implications for the minister.

"It is not appropriate for these decisions to be delegated to a departmental official. These are public lands and it is proper that these decisions are made by a publicly elected and accountable official," he said.

- APNZ

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