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National’s environmental priorities are not what NZers want

National’s environmental priorities are not what NZers want

National’s environment priorities, presented by Conservation Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today, are greenwash and won’t protect the New Zealand we love, the Green Party said today.

“New Zealanders have identified, year after year, that water is their number one environmental issue, and yet National is allowing our rivers and lakes to become increasingly polluted,” said Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

Dr Nick Smith today said that National’s environmental priorities for the next three years were: environmental reporting, reforming our marine reserve legislation, reforming the RMA, reviewing the status of stewardship land, reviewing the status of rivers that run through conservation land, and advancing the proposed national park in Northland kauri forests at Waipoua.

“National is ignoring the two big elephants in the room, water quality and climate change. New Zealanders want action on both, but National is failing to deliver,” said Ms Sage.

“Even Nick Smith admitted that National’s emissions trading scheme has failed. He said, ‘I openly concede that with the low international price, this scheme is not putting huge financial pressure on sectors to reduce emissions.’

“Today Nick Smith admitted the economy depends on the environment yet he stood by while National trashed the environment.

“His Government proposed mineral mining and oil and gas exploration in a Maui’s dolphin sanctuary, allowed conservation land on the Denniston Plateau to be dug up for climate-polluting coal, and allowed our rivers to deteriorate so that nearly two-thirds of our monitored river swimming spots are too polluted for swimming.

“National's weak National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management and weak bottom lines allow for more agricultural intensification which will worsen water quality in our rivers and lakes.

“National isn’t serious about protecting the environment. Last election it promised fully independent environmental reporting, but didn’t deliver. National cancelled the yearly reports on water quality at our summer swimming spots, saying that these would be replaced by 3-yearly reports. It’s no wonder they don’t want yearly reporting because their results are so abysmal.

“The National Government’s oceans protections have been meagre. It has only protected less than 1 percent of our oceans in marine reserves, while it is opening up our oceans to new threats such as deep sea drilling and seabed mining.

“The National Government’s proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act will erode environmental protections, and make the state of New Zealand’s environment worse.

“The Green Party has a credible plan for a smart, green economy that protects the environment. We have launched a plan to make our rivers clean enough for swimming again, and have proposed a Climate Tax Cut – a charge on carbon where the revenue generated is recycled back to households and businesses in the form of a tax cut.

“Voters have a real choice this election. National and its pollution economy, or the Green Party’s plan for a cleaner, smarter economy,” said Ms Sage.


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