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Survey: Coalition Choices Crucial for Environment

Tuesday 23 July 2002

Vote for the Environment Campaign

www.environmentvote.org.nz

Survey: Coalition Choices Crucial for Environment

The make-up of any coalition after the election will be crucial for the environment according to a report which contains an analysis of party policies released today by environment, conservation and recreation organisations. The Vote for the Environment Campaign is run by a non-partisan coalition of environmental groups comprising Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO), Federated Mountain Clubs, Greenpeace New Zealand and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

The Vote for the Environment Coalition today released a report of its analysis of the results of its questionnaire sent to eight political parties and an assessment of their policies. Spokesperson for Vote for the Environment, Cath Wallace says that "the survey suggests that a coalition between Labour and either the Greens or Progressive Coalition would be much more environmentally inclined than a coalition involving Labour, NZ First and/or United Future."

"A National - Act - United Future Coalition would be markedly less environmental than a Labour led coalition."

"If NZ First joined with National it might green the government but if it replaced the Greens in a coalition with Labour then it would make for a less environmentally friendly Labour-led government."

"On their responses, NZ First claims to be more environmentally disposed than Labour".

Four parties replied to the questionnaire, the others have been assessed on their known policies and how they voted in Parliament.

"We have ranked the parties' commitment to the environment on a scale of between one and five kiwis. The Greens rank five kiwis. The Progressive Coalition ranks four kiwis. NZ First, Labour and the Alliance rank three kiwis. National and United rank one kiwi. ACT did so badly they did not rank even a whole kiwi, just a drumstick".

The Greens support almost every policy we put forward and score 97%. The Progressive Coalition scored 76%, NZ First 58%, Labour 57%, the Alliance 56%, National 27%, United Future 28% and Act 10%.

The groups see genetic engineering as just one issue amongst many. "We urge people to look at all the issues and see how parties rate on a range of environmental issues."

More detailed analysis of the results will be available soon on the website www.environmentvote.org.nz, and also accompanies this press release.

Notes: 1. This is the fifth election which the groups have produced a Charter and challenged all political parties to adopt it..

2. ECO, Forest and Bird, Greenpeace and Federated Mountain Clubs compiled this Vote for the Environment Report. Most of the analysis is based on how they rate in relation to the questionnaire that draws on some of the policy positions in the charter. We also mention other matters of significance and provide an analysis of how parties voted in Parliament.

3. Labour, the Greens, NZ First and the Progressive Coalition completed the questionnaire. Other parties left it to us to judge their positions according to their known and published policies. United, Alliance, National and Act did not respond substantively but referred us to their policies. We have done our best to make fair assessments using their websites and other sources of knowledge of their positions such as speeches and Parliamentary votes.

4. The Alliance, United Future, National and Act in some cases did not have policies that addressed some sections of the questionnaire and so have lower scores than if they had an entry for all policies. Because of this we have scored each party two ways. The first is on the basis of their scores for the total of the 76 policy positions for which there were questions. Second they have been scored according to their performance for those questions where we had scores for them, so that the unknowns were excluded.

5. Interpreting the responses from parties was not always straightforward but we have tried to be as fair as we can. Difficulties arose when parties said "yes" but changed the question or so qualified their answers that it was effectively a "no." An example is ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change where some parties said yes but said only if Australia and the USA ratify. Since these have said they will not ratify we considered that such answers were effectively a "no."

6. For the Alliance, United Future, ACT and National, we scored them the best we could. For several of these parties we ended up simply with "not available". Not having policy on important policy issues is itself significant - but we provide an analysis of the responses that reflects what is known and not known and how they scored.

Some issues: 1. Most parties agree with ratification of Kyoto Protocol, but some, notably NZ First and National, so qualified their "yes" by waiting for Australia and the USA (who have said they will not ratify) that we had to rate them as unwilling to ratify. Act is opposed and United Future uncommitted on when. Labour, the Progressive Coalition, the Alliance and the Greens all commit to ratification but Labour does not agree to a cut of at least 5% to 2008-2012 greenhouse gas emissions against 1990 levels.

2. Most parties with a view support the Marine Reserves Bill and the Progressive Coalition and the Greens support our targets for no-take marine reserves - but Labour commits only to 10% as marine protected areas - not as no-take reserves and seems intent on allowing some mining in marine reserves. NZ First opposes our target for marine reserves, the Alliance has no targets whereas National promises 9 marine reserves in the next 3 years. No marine reserves have been created in the last 3 years.

3. Overall, the Greens, Labour, Progressive Coalition, NZ First and the Alliance policies all go some distance to increasing pest control. The National policy appears contingent on selling Landcorp Farms and focuses on private land only. Both National and ACT promote native forest logging.

4. From the questionnaires the Greens and Progressive Coalition answered yes to prohibiting the release of GE organisms. New Zealand First and Labour had similar replies and opposed an extension to the moratorium. The Alliance supports an extension to the moratorium while National and Act do not want it extended. No specific policy from United Future NZ on genetic engineering could be found but they voted in Parliament with National and ACT for a shorter moratorium ending on 30 June this year.


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