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Ministry puff piece a waste of taxpayer dollars

24 May 2006

Ministry puff piece a waste of taxpayer dollars

An expensive Ministry for the Environment publication has been slammed by the Green Party as "complacent pap" and a waste of taxpayers' money.

The Party's Environment Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos says that the $125,000 spent on printing and distribution, plus unknown staff time, could have been better spent on a publication that would have been useful for people.

Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the Ministry has failed in its responsibility to update the state of the environment report that came out in 1997.

"That report's main value is its ability to show trends over time, but after nine years there has not been a follow up study. If we are to take the right actions to protect the environment they need to be based on sound accurate information. This book is aimed at concealing rather than revealing the true state of our environment," she says.

Nandor says: "There are some significant challenges before the Ministry right now - the programme of action on water, climate change policy, not to mention the failure of the packaging accord. To think that who knows how many months of work have gone into this book is disappointing.

"While it's good to acknowledge where there have been successes, such as the removal of lead from petrol, the whole tenor of this book says 'it's all good, there are a few minor issues but don't worry, everything is under control'. Even the name Gentle Footprints reinforces the sense of complacency.

"New Zealand has nothing to feel complacent about when it comes to our environment. The book could have been a valuable tool to inform people about what the real challenges are and what things they can do personally to address them. It has singularly failed to do so.

"The book is also contains misleading information - for example there are a number of references to the Tyre Track scheme, with one statement saying that 'the scheme collected and disposed of or reused nearly 1.3 million worn out tyres in its first 18 months'. It would be easy to think that means that nearly one-and-a-half million tyres have been diverted from the waste stream. Not so, in fact 932,000 of them went to landfills. Tyre Track seems to mostly consist of counting tyres as they proceed from car wheels to land fills.

"The book seems more suited to Tourism NZ, and simply reinforces a misconceived notion that we have all the time in the world.

ENDS

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