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Greens say environment can’t cope with more dairy farms

Green Party says our environment can’t cope with more dairy farms

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman told TV1’s Q+A programme that the environment can’t cope with more dairy production.

He said the Green Party wants to shift the focus to adding more value to raw milk rather than increasing the number of cows.

“We're pushing against the limits in the number of cows. What we need to do is add value to the existing production, rather than just trying to boost production.”

“I don’t think capping the cow limit is necessarily the way you do it, but the way that it will impact is in terms of water quality, in terms of greenhouse emissions, we're up against limits. What we need to do is value add in dairy and across the economy. I mean it's not just dairy, it's also the Internet economy, manufacturing, right across the sector. Forestry, we're exporting most of our trees as raw logs now, there's not a lot of money in that.

He also told Q+A, he wasn’t concerned that the Internet Party would be targeting traditional Green voters.

“The Green Party is a pretty established party, we've been polling over 10% now for three years, we're currently 12% over this year, so we're in a pretty strong position, and if you look at the Internet issues, I mean it was the Green Party - I put up the proposal for a second internet cable, and to be the cornerstone investor the government to take a cornerstone investment in that. If you look at holding the GCSB to account, I mean I personally have led that. And if you look at digital freedom and digital bill of rights I mean we've led on that issue as well.”

But he said the Greens are opposed to ‘coat-tailing’ into Parliament and want the law changed.

“We've always opposed the coat tailing rule. The reason we haven't got rid of the coat-tailing rule is that National blocked it, and so we've always said to the National Party you should get rid of this rule. National wanted to keep it because of Craig and all the rest of it. And so we've always said it's a bad rule.”

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:35pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz

Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.

Q+A is on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/NZQandA#!/NZQandA and on Twitter, http://twitter.com/#!/NZQandA

ends

Q + A
Episode 13
RUSSEL NORMAN
Interviewed by CORIN DANN

CORIN Dr Norman, thank you very much for joining us on Q + A. If we could start first with the Internet Party, you went out to the Dotcom mansion, you talked to Dotcom, presumably you went out there to convince him not to start a political party. This must be your worst nightmare.

DR RUSSEL NORMAN – Green Party Co-Leader
Well I mean you know the Green Party is a pretty established party, we've been polling over 10% now for three years, we're currently 12% over this year, so we're in a pretty strong position, and if you look at the Internet issues, I mean it was the Green Party - I put up the proposal for a second internet cable, and to be the cornerstone investor the government to take a cornerstone investment in that. If you look at holding the GCSB to account, I mean I personally have led that. And if you look at digital freedom and digital bill of rights I mean we've led on that issue as well.

CORIN You're facing huge competition on those policies aren't you?

RUSSEL Well I think that what it shows is that the Green Party has consistently led on those kinds of policies, and in terms of transitioning the New Zealand economy so that we make a lot more out of the internet, I think the Green Party's led on that as well.

CORIN How do you feel about now the fact that the Internet Party's there with its three or four million dollars in the war chest, that can take you on on that stuff and steal your votes?

RUSSEL Well I'm not particularly worried about it. You know people who vote for the Greens - you know 250,000 people voted Green last time - people who vote for the Greens they're looking for a coherent party, a strong party with a proven track record, and you know they have kept with the Greens throughout all of these years, and so I'm not worried this issue.

CORIN Is the Internet Mana not coherent?

RUSSEL Well I think when you compare it to the Greens you know we have a big set of policies which we've developed over a long period. We have a set of experienced MPs ready for government. I think it's quite a different kind of arrangement.

CORIN How would you describe them then?

RUSSEL Well that’s up for them, I mean obviously it's quite eclectic, I mean I think you’d have to say.

CORIN Is it good for New Zealand?

RUSSEL Well I think that the Green Party's good for New Zealand. I think people should vote for the Greens you know, so you know in terms of making progress on those kinds of issues I think the Greens offer a lot more.

CORIN Just one point of question on this. Is it a dodgy deal, is it bad for democracy to have them coming in this way?

RUSSEL We've always opposed the coat tailing rule. The reason we haven't got rid of the coat tailing rule is that National blocked it, and so we've always said to the National Party you should get rid of this rule. National wanted to keep it because of Craig and all the rest of it. And so we've always said it's a bad rule.

CORIN Does it just highlight how disappointing it must be for the Greens. You went to Labour with the offer of some sort of a formal three coalition you know before the election, but they rejected that. It's now made it very messy on the left, you’ve got potentially five parties. You must have wanted that deal, that would have made it a lot simpler wouldn’t it?

RUSSEL Yeah I mean we were pretty upfront about that. That’s what we said. Labour decided not to do that, but I think you know what's important for us is that the Greens put forward a coherent and a consistent policy, I mean you know we're a strong organisation, we're in a strong position. Obviously what Labour and the others do is up to them. But I mean look at the far right - John Key's got a similar problem on the far right with the multitude of parties he's go to deal with over there. The MP of one of them is currently in court.

CORIN How do you think though voters are going to look at the left and say Labour is the biggest party , it's potentially going to have to deal with what three or four other parties and some big personalities, Winston Peters, Laila Harre, yourself. It's gonna be very complicated and messy isn't it?

RUSSEL Well I think it's also going to be messy on the other side, when you look at Colin Craig, well I mean who knows what's going to happen with him. When you look at John Banks, Jamie White, Peter Dunne. So when it comes down to it, what matters is it's a democracy, people vote for the parties that they support, and our job as politicians is to be responsible about post-election negotiations, so that we put together a government which represents the breadth of those who voted for those parties.

CORIN Tell me a bit more about that responsible what do you mean by that?

RUSSEL Well I think it's very important that we actually say, okay this is what the voters voted for, once the election's over and we sit down together, and we don’t kind of you know blackmail each other or say you’ve got to do this that or the other - we go what does this vote represent. And so what does it mean for the kind of government we should form?

CORIN So it mean proportionality in terms of Cabinet positions for the Greens?

RUSSEL It means proportionality particularly in terms of policy. So you know we got into politics to make a difference, to do some good, and so in terms of getting policy gains that’s our first interest in getting into politics, and so it's about proportionality in terms of policy.

CORIN But also Cabinet positions you'd agree?

RUSSEL Yeah that’s right.

CORIN So tell me how many would that mean you're looking for – to get your 12-13%?

RUSSEL Well no, 15% - 20 MPs thank you very much. You know that’s what we're certainly going for. I mean it probably means 7 Cabinet Ministers but it depends on the whole make-up of the thing.

CORIN Do you expect to have at least some access to the financial role?

RUSSEL Yeah I mean I think if we're gonna make the transition to a smarter greener economy which has got much more value add, and not just kind of raw logs and milk powder, it's important that the Greens have an influence, so that we can make that change.

CORIN So that’s Economic Development. I mean we know Finance has been ruled out, do you accept that’s off the table?

RUSSEL No, I mean it's all on the table, it depends on the voters - so the voters decide the relative powers of the different parties.

CORIN Are you worried that if Winston Peters is in the mix that he may block you, may veto, may say look he's not going to support a left wing government if you're in those positions?

RUSSEL No not really, the Greens are in a very strong position. I mean you know we're polling 12% currently on average this year, which is probably about double, where at this time three years ago we're going to go into the election 15%, 20 MPs, it's a pretty strong bloc.

CORIN How do you feel about New Zealand First because you know there's always the talk that you could be jilted at the altar so to speak once again, and New Zealand First takes your spot with Labour.

RUSSEL I'm not worried about New Zealand First, if they get over 5% and they're back in Parliament, then obviously we'll deal with them. I mean we'll have to, that’s what the voters have decided. So that’s the basis on which I deal with them.

CORIN Let's deal with some policies and where the Greens are going to be going. The Emissions Trading Scheme, would you dump that if you were in a position to do that?

RUSSEL Well we'll be obviously making policy announcements later today, but I think it's no secret we've been very critical of the Emissions Trading Scheme, it's currently subsidising pollution. The taxpayers are subsidising greenhouse pollution. So that is the definition of a failed scheme. Under National settings, New Zealand's emissions, net emissions are set to increase by 50% in a decade, according to the Government’s own figures.

CORIN So what's the solution? Carbon tax? Is that a better – I mean it wasn't just the Greens who favoured a carbon tax a few years ago, there were a number of parties that did.

RUSSEL Oh and you know a lot of other economists have been pretty clear about it as well. Obviously we haven't made any announcements about that. We'll talk about that later in the day.

CORIN Okay, we'll take that as a sort of a yes and we'll look forward to that. Could I deal with the issue of dairying and water? What can you tell the farmers out there, I guess pro-development people in the water storage, that type of thing. If you were in a position say Economic Development Minister, would you put restrictions on the growth in dairying?

RUSSEL I think the short answer is that the environment is already putting restrictions on the growth in dairying. In terms of water quality, we saw with the Ruataniwha decision, and we're really up against it in terms of water quality, in terms of greenhouse emissions. Dairying and greenhouse emissions have doubled since 1990. And so we're facing real environmental constraints on a volume based approach. We need a value add approach to dairying.

CORIN Okay but would you have taxes, would you put incentives in place to stop that growth that you believe dairying can't sustain?

RUSSEL Well I mean even in the Ruataniwha, the Board of Inquiry decision, I mean essentially they put in place constraints around water quality.

CORIN And the Government's talking about over potentially stepping in and blocking that decision.

RUSSEL Yeah, which is incredible when you think about it. I mean the Government's proposed standard would mean New Zealand rivers could be four times more polluted with nitrogen than the Yangtse River in China.

CORIN So simple question. Can we have more cows? Can we do more cows?

RUSSEL No, I think we're ...

CORIN So that’s it?

RUSSEL ... we're pushing against the limits in the number of cows. What we need to do is add value to the existing production, rather than just trying to boost production.

CORIN So would you cap the cow limit? Because that has been talked about before?

RUSSEL I don’t think capping the cow limit is necessarily the way you do it, but the way that it will impact is in terms of water quality, in terms of greenhouse emissions, we're up against limits. What we need to do is value add in dairy and across the economy. I mean it's not just dairy, it's also the Internet economy, manufacturing, right across the sector. Forestry, we're exporting most of our trees as raw logs now, there's not a lot of money in that.

CORIN And just quickly mining. Will there be any mining? Would you allow any mining if you were in a position of power?

RUSSEL Yeah, I mean we've never said we're against all mining. What we said is no new coal mines because of the greenhouse effects, and then obviously we've been concerned about deep sea oil drilling because of the risks around that, and fracking because of the risks around that. But I mean you know you’re going to have aggregate mining and so forth. I mean you can't have no new mining.

CORIN But the deep sea stuff would be off the picture?

RUSSEL Yeah, because of the risks involved, environmental, local environmental risks of a leak, you know they don’t know how to stop a leak. And also because of the climate problem about deep sea oil.

CORIN Russel Norman, thank you very much for your time.


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