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Environmental Policies Analysed: Two Distinct Camp

VOTE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

PO Box 11-057, Wellington

Phone/Fax 64-4-385-7545

Media Release - Embargoed to 10am 2 November 1999 - Wellington

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES ANALYSED: TWO DISTINCT CAMPS

New Zealand’s environment will suffer if a National/ACT Government is re-elected, says a coalition of leading environment groups which asked each party to say where they stand on a comprehensive survey of environmental policies.

Spokesperson for the coalition, Cath Wallace, says the survey shows that a Labour - Alliance – Greens coalition promises strong support for better environmental management whereas a National – ACT - United coalition would provide weak support for the environment. On the environment, New Zealand First would have more in common with the Labour- Alliance-Green partnership than it would with National-ACT- United.

The survey, based on the Vote for the Environment Charter produced by the non-partisan environmental groups in August, asked the parties where they stand on a portfolio of 172 questions. The Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO), Forest and Bird Protection Society, Greenpeace NZ and Federated Mountain Clubs produced the Environment Charter and questions.

Analysis of the positions of seven parties show the Greens and the Alliance agree with 95% and 92% respectively of the policy positions; Labour with 80% and NZ First with 67%. United however only supported 44%, National 28% and ACT 15%.

On key policy issues, the analysis shows a Labour/Alliance/Green coalition would embark on marine management reforms and control overfishing, stop native beech logging on the West Coast, introduce compulsory labelling of GE foods, improve funding for environment agencies and integrate environment and economic policies. All three parties also have complimentary policies on climate change and resource management.

In contrast, a National/ACT/United government would allow the fishing industry to manage fisheries; makes no commitment to significant marine reform and would see indigenous logging on the West Coast continue.

Environmentally damaging changes to the Forests and Resource Management Acts included in legislation currently before Parliament would also get the go ahead. National and ACT are, however, divided on the GE food labelling issue. National supports a "may contain" labelling regime while ACT opposes labelling fullstop.

New Zealand First’s position on the environment is less clear. On paper, it has more in common with a Labour/Alliance/Green coalition. However, its voting record over the last three year reveals it has supported National on almost all its anti-environmental initiatives.

The Alliance, Labour, the Greens, United and NZ First returned completed questionnaires. National did not and was instead ranked based on known policy positions including the Environment 2010 Strategy. ACT advised that it supported the policy positions on biosecurity and gave qualified support on the Treaty of Waitangi but not any others. Some other parties, sent copies of the charter, did not respond to the questionnaire and have not been analysed for lack of information on their policies.

Spokesperson for the groups, Cath Wallace said, "it is very disappointing that National would not tell voters where they stand on environmental policies. It is critical to healthy democracy that voters are informed of where parties stand on important public issues.

"This is the fourth election-year Environment Charter and survey. Prior to the election of 1996 National refused to complete the survey so we made own assessment as fairly as we could. Environment Minister, Simon Upton told us, at the ECO annual conference in 1996, that our assessment of National’s support for that Charter’s policies was "too generous".

Kevin Smith, Forest and Bird’s Conservation Director said, one of the key environmental issues for the election in the future of the West Coast rainforests mismanaged by Timberlands. This issue divides the parties into two camps. Labour, the Alliance and Greens support protection of the forests and establishment of a community owned trust to manage the plantation forests for local benefits."

"National, ACT and NZ First back rainforest logging with National and ACT likely to privatise Timberlands and the native forests."

Most of the parties agree on the need to take urgent steps to protect New Zealand from invasive species, there is some measure of agreement on principles, and on the protection of Antarctica, but beyond that, there is little agreement across the spectrum.

In contrast, the National-ACT- United camp was broadly cohesive in not accepting most of the policies put forward in the Environment Charter. They scored poorly on the questions that related to public participation and disclosure.

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For more detail, see the attached table of summaries of the positions taken by the parties by topic areas.

For further information contact:

Cath Wallace, ECO (04)389-1696(h) or (04)463-5713 (w) or Stephen Blyth (ECO) (04)383-5727;

Kevin Smith or Barry Weeber, Forest and Bird Protection Society (04)385-7374 (w).

Tricia Allen, Greenpeace (09)630-6317(w) (025)790-817

David Round, FMC (03)329-4605(h) or (03)329-4605

Note to Media Release:

The Groups involved with Vote For the Environment are:

Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO)

PO Box 11-057, Wellington. Ph/fax (04)385-7545.

Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ (FMC)

PO Box 1604, Wellington. Ph/fax (04)233-8244.

Greenpeace

Private Bag 92-507, Wellesley St, Auckland. Ph (09)630-6317 or Fax (09)630-7121.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ

PO Box 631, Wellington. Ph (04)385-7374 or Fax (04)385-7373.


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