Nats are sacrificing our environment... for what?

26/10/2012

By Dr. Russel Norman

The natural environment makes New Zealand a great place to live. And it underpins our economy – tourists come here for the 100% Pure image, and Chinese parents feed their kids New Zealand infant formula because it’s clean, green and safe.

So you’d have to be a mug to attack the environment. Or a Cabinet minister, because since the last election that’s exactly what they’ve been up to.

They are using taxpayer money to subsidise the intensification of dairying agribusiness, intensification that will lead to more water pollution. According to the Ministry for the Environment most monitored rivers aren’t safe for swimming already.

Swimming in a river should be a birth right of New Zealand kids but it’s rapidly becoming a quaint historical oddity- “Hey dad did you really swim in that half drained contaminated cesspool when you were a kid?”

And sure agribusiness makes a quick buck selling milk powder to China, but what happens when Chinese parents find out that our rivers are becoming just as polluted as theirs? Will they still pay a premium for New Zealand food?

No environment, no economy.

They are subsidising deep sea oil exploration. When I told John Key this week that Maritime New Zealand said that they don’t have the equipment to clean up a spill in New Zealand’s wild oceans, he said that was just one person’s view. That one person was Dayne Maxwell, who is responsible for Maritime New Zealand’s oil spill response.

Here’s a few other examples:

- The Government embarrassed New Zealand internationally with its opposition to protecting the Ross Sea. It rejected a modest United States proposal to tailor its own to suit the fishing industry.
- Again on the world stage New Zealand was the only country to vote against measures to protect marine mammals at the International Union for Conservation of Nature conference.
- This National Government decided to allow 68 critically endangered sea lions to be killed, rather than having a safer squid fishery.
- And it is trying to push through changes to the emissions trading laws so that taxpayers have to subsidise greenhouse pollution. Genius.

The Greens support job-rich, clean, green industries like renewable energy that protect the environment and make money for New Zealand. New Zealand needs an economy that supports the environment rather than undermines it. We can have both.

Russel Norman is co-leader of the Green Party

source: data archive