Stop the Tunnel members Leslie van Gelder (left) and Trish
Fraser (centre) are joined by the Labour Party's
spokeswoman for conservation, Ruth Dyson. Photo by
A crowd of about 30 at the Glenorchy Hall were told
yesterday their fight to stop a proposed tunnel and monorail is
"one of the biggest issues we have seen" and should ignite the
same national passion as the past proposal to mine national
Labour's spokeswoman for conservation, Ruth Dyson, and Labour
MP Trevor Mallard visited Glenorchy yesterday to meet
impassioned locals and representatives from the Stop the
Tunnel and Save Fiordland groups.
Ms Dyson told those at the meeting she did not think the
issue of whether to approve the projects - an 11.3km tunnel
from the Routeburn Rd to Mt Aspiring National Park and a 43km
monorail from the Mararoa River Valley to Te Anau Downs - was
"high-profile enough" in Parliament.
Following her visit, she said she had a range of new
questions she intended to ask various National ministers and
would do as much as she could to keep the debate alive.
She said both projects should never have been approved in
principle and because they had there was "a loophole
somewhere in the process we have to close".
"Now it's on that path we have to do everything to get it off
that path ... you can't put future generations through this."
The Milford Dart Tunnel would reduce driving time to Milford
Sound and be restricted to commercial buses and Ms Dyson
questioned what sort of tourism that would attract.
The "fly-in, fly-out tourism" was "not what this part of the
country is about."
She challenged the crowd to "get some heat on" Conservation
Minister Kate Wilkinson because "at the moment she is walking
away from one of the biggest issues we have seen".
Stop the Tunnel spokeswoman Trish Fraser said it was
difficult to keep the issue in the public arena, though the
long process also came with the advantage that "the longer it
takes, the more noise we can make".
A final decision was expected before year's end and Mrs
Fraser said if the projects were given the green light, the
groups would ask for a judicial review.