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Greens Hiding From Green Issues, Says Group

An environmental group is asking: what happened to the Greens? Did they turn into pseudo-Greens?

The tough parliamentary questions on the giant mega-dump proposal beside the Waikato River which threatens community drinking water and local farm lands are coming from opposition National members of the house, says Land Air Water.

Spokesperson Lyn Milnes said, "It is the height of hypocrisy for the Greens to offer themselves for election on a clean-up ticket and then stay silently in the shadows on big issues like the proposal to put a big polluting rubbish mountain beside the Waikato River."

Nanaia Mahuta who is from Waikato takes it seriously, but what is the rest of Labour-Green actually doing about its boasted waste minimisation policy and protecting the river, she asked.

Where are the dumping taxes, the recycling credits, the incentives to minimise waste, the rewards to Councils who move towards waste reduction? Where are all the jobs we should get from the Discarded Appliance Depots and the waste paper products factories?

Where did Helen Clark's conscience go after her loud post-election carrying on about saving the whales and the west coast? This is the first time a huge public pollution issue has arisen in the country and she has ducked it, claims the group.

The group says Environment Minister Marion Hobbs and Local Government and Conservation Minister Sandra Lee have stayed silent on the issue, which Waikato residents say will add to the heavy pollution burden already suffered by the river from activities already given permits by the Waikato regional authority (Environment Waikato).

The parliamentarians who are asking the big environmental questions seem to be ACT (Owen Jennings) and the National Party (Paul Hutchison, Martin Gallagher, Nick Smith), the environmental group claims.

The thirty million cubic metre landfill proposal will be about 600 metres from the edge of the Waikato River and upstream of the planned Auckland drinking water intake. The river catchment provides drinking and irrigation water to many small communities.

Landfill fires and the air streams they give out are the biggest source of poisoning from the lethal endocrine-disruptors dioxins in New Zealand, says the group, quoting the Ministry for the Environment. So why, they ask, is the Ministry under Labour-Green leadership silent on this dump?

The dump company EnviroWaste, with dominant private shareholder Shell Oil (NZ) Limited but half owned by Infrastructure Auckland, has said it will accept all kinds of mixed industrial waste, domestic refuse and sewage sludge from the upper half of the North Island and place them on the dump until it is eleven metres higher than surrounding hills.

Waikato people will hold a Hikoi protesting about the dump and government neglect of the river on Thursday July 20, starting 7am at Laverne's Orchard Shop Wayside Road Te Kauwhata and walking down the main state highway to Huntly by mid-morning and Ngaruawahia by 3pm to make a protest to the District Council.

===============================================

Enclosures:

1. Text of parliamentary questions on North Island super-dump, 5 July 2000,

2. Rod Donald press release 5 December 1999 on South Island proposed super-dump which would have poisoned the water catchment feeding down towards Ashburton (now cancelled).

===============================================

Further information:

(Land Air Water Assn Inc.) Lyn Milnes (07) 826 3080

(Hikoi) Anne Epiha, (07) 826 4258 or Wendy Finlayson (07) 826 3458

===============================================

Land Air Water Association Incorporated,

P O Box 37-773 Auckland

or c/- Lyn Milnes, Te Kauwhata RD2, North Waikato

Telephone or fax: (+64 +7) 826 3080 Email: llm@chong.co.nz

=====================================

>From Parliamentary questions

July 5 2000 (approximate date)

=======================================

Question 3.

Nandor Tanczos (Green) to the Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee:

Q: Has the Government considered initiating a cost benefit analysis of the proposed $155 million Waikato River pipeline to Auckland to see if it will be money well spent?

A: (Phillida Bunkle) No. This project is the responsibility of Watercare Services which is accountable to its local authority shareholders.

Q: Given there is so much rubbish in the river, wouldn't it be better for Aucklanders to drink the water they have now?

A: It is not the responsibility of the Government to tell people where to take their water from. That said the Ministry of Health is considering water standards and the government wants to promote a coordinated approach to these issues. Watercare Services will be required to meet national standards for drinking water to be put in place later this year. I am advised that the contract for the pipeline was let in October 1999. Design is well underway. Construction will begin soon and it will be completed in 2002.

Dr Paul Hutchison (National) to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: Is the Government committed to waste minimisation, state-of-the-art waste disposal, and an open, accountable and rigorous process regarding waste disposal applications?

A: Yes. We are fully committed to principles behind waste management. Our partner local government has responsibility for this under the RMA.

Q: Why has she refused twice to participate in hearings on the massive proposed Hampton Downs landfill in the Waikato - NZ's largest - just upstream from the Waikato pipeline intake?

A: As Minister for the Environment I cannot interfere in individual cases especially when the case is before the Environment Court.

Q: What are you doing about waste minimisation?

A: I am establishing a multi-sector working group to work a national coordinated waste-minimisation strategy. If the opposition - which did nothing when in Government - continues to laugh, then that is their problem.

Q: Nick Smith (National): How can she claim she does not have the power to make submissions when her ministry makes submissions all the time?

A: What I said was that as Minister for the environment I cannot interfere in the actions of the Environment Court.

........................................................................................................

A LAW member has sent this summary (below) and the previous wording of the discussion of the dump issue in Parliament today. Thank you very much to that member.

...........................................................................................................

Martin Gallagher

(summary) asked what progress this Government had made to minimise waste

Marian Hobbs

(summary) said that they are working on developing relationships which will help - announcing next week the formation of a working party which will come up with a National Waste Minimisation & Management Strategy. (Multi-party) and will include representatives from the waste industry.

Rod Donald

(summary) asked a question supporting the waste minimisation strategy.

Owen Jennings

(summary) asked when the Government was going to show leadership on this issue which was a national one, rather than letting communities around the country be picked off one by one by pitting neighbours against neighbours.

M Hobbs

(summary) - are you asking me to repeal the RMA? Cos we won't ever do that.

Nick Smith

(summary) How is it the Minister can't ask her department to make a submission to the Environment Court, because they always used to make submissions on waste management issues, so how come now they 'can't'.

He pointed out that it was in the purchasing contract with Govt that they WOULD make such submissions.

------------------------------------------------------------------- Land Air Water, aiming to protect, preserve and study healthy land, air and water resources. E-mails: "mailto:landairwater@eGroups.com"

===========================

Press Release:

Green Party 5/12/99 14:54:00

The people of Darfield shouldn't have to suffer Christchurch's rubbish dumped on their doorstep because of successive governments' inaction on waste reduction, says the Green Party. Green co-leader Rod Donald is today attending a picnic organised by the Dump the Dump committee at the site of the proposed Darfield superdump. Local MP Jenny Shipley is also expected to attend. "The only way we will stop superdumps, such as the ones proposed for Darfield and on the banks of the Waikato River, is for the government to adopt a nationwide 'zero waste' strategy," Mr Donald said. The Greens are calling on all parties to work together to tackle the growing waste problem. "I'm even happy to work with local Rakaia MP Jenny Shipley on this issue providing she embraces zero waste rather than proposes simply shifting the dump onto someone else's doorstep," Mr Donald said. "The Malvern hills are as precious to the people of Darfield as Hagley Park is to Christchurch residents and no-one in their right mind would dump the city's rubbish in the middle of the park. "We hope the new government will provide strong leadership to achieve zero waste and work in partnership with local government, business and the community. "At the end of the day, success will only come from a change in behaviour and attitude towards resources and the environment, in addition to appropriate Government incentives and penalties." The Greens support: a shift of taxation away from incomes and onto waste and pollution, promoting venture capital for new Cleaner Production technologies, implementing true cost accounting, encouraging a cradle-to-grave life cycle production model, and making manufacturers and packagers responsible for the costs of the final disposal of their products, said Mr Donald. "A 'zero waste' strategy has the added benefit of removing the uncertainty and anxiety from the lives of those people living near the proposed rubbish dumps," he said.

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