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Miles of Nonsense

Import News from the Importers Institute:

Miles of Nonsense

European Greens call for the destruction of the basis of the New Zealand economy. Prime Minister Helen Clark, while agreeing with the basic premise of their argument, asks them to go easy on us because we are quite Green ourselves.

(This article was first published in the Exporter Magazine, December 2006)

The argument goes like this. The best environmental option would be for Europeans to produce butter and lamb efficiently themselves for their own people rather than import it from halfway around the globe.

You could be excused for thinking that this is patently self-serving nonsense, spouted by a French farmer keen to continue lining his pockets at the expense of European consumers. But you would be wrong. The words were uttered by our very own John Minto (yes, that one) in a column in The Press of Christchurch, November 6.

Mr. Minto acknowledges the counter-arguments that we are more energy efficient than the Europeans, but he is not impressed. That very efficiency is "putting a huge strain on our land, water supplies and animal-welfare practices", he said. Besides, it is not just the environmental cost of the fuel used to transport our exports to market that we should consider. "What about the cost of building the ships?" he asked helpfully.

Mr. Minto's views on world trade would normally be afforded about as much relevance as the views of any other left-wing school teacher, were it not for the fact that they are actually in perfect tune with the world view of the Labour government.

That government is spending $11 million on an advertising fest to promote the idea that it is indeed better for us to produce our goods here, instead of having them transported halfway around the globe. The government cannot credibly argue that the "buy local" campaigns are a good thing in New Zealand, but not in Europe.

The same government has also enthusiastically bought into the catastrophic theories on climate change espoused by the likes of Al Gore. Miss Clark suggested New Zealand should aspire to become "carbon neutral". How this is to be achieved, or when, was not made clear. Miss Clark did not go into details. We do not know if the Holy Grail of carbon neutrality is to be achieved through wholesale de-industrialisation, closing down pastoral activity or both.

We do know that, should European farmers and environmental activists manage to convince enough consumers in Europe to stop buying New Zealand products, Miss Clark's goal of carbon neutrality for this country would become that much easier to achieve.

Of course, 'carbon neutrality' was never meant to be taken seriously. Like the proposal to build a stadium on the Auckland waterfront (interestingly, at sea level), the idea was never more than an attempt to divert voters' attention from a political corruption scandal. It should not, however, be completely dismissed - this loopy talk of carbon neutrality serves only to give credence to those intent on destroying the pastoral basis of our economy, using specious concepts such as 'food miles'.

Mr. Minto said, "In the 1980's, New Zealand abandoned the concept of self-reliance and embraced globalisation." He called this a dumb strategy. The Korean word for self-reliance is Juche. It is the policy that resulted in millions of starving North Koreans resorting to eating tree bark. Meantime, in next door China, hundreds of millions of people were lifted from abject poverty by that country's decision to open its economy to world trade. Who is dumb again?

The government of Australia did not buy into the catastrophe-based hysteria underlying the Kyoto agreement. New Zealanders were sold that pup on the basis that we would be making lots of money in carbon credits. It turned out that we will probably have to pay those nice people in the Kremlin about $1 billion of carbon 'indulgences'. Who is dumb again?

Charlie Pedersen, the President of Federated Farmers, was quite right when he said that environmentalists are at "war with the human race". People who espouse the nationalistic, anti-trade, self-reliance nonsense in the face of all the evidence deserve to be called for what they are: ecofascists. Miss Clark's duty is to defend the national interest, the same as every Prime Minister before her. She can do that by countering their arguments with reason, not by attempting to out-green the ecofascists. To do otherwise would only lead us to question her fitness for high office.


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