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Govt breaks promise on independent environment reporting

8 August 2013

Govt breaks promise on independent environment reporting

The Green Party is worried about politicisation of the state of the environment reporting announced today because the reporting will be done by the Ministry for the Environment rather than independently by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), as National promised in 2011.

"In 2011 the National Government promised to have the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment independently report on the environment every five years, but the reporting announced today is in house," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

"The Government has broken its promise to have independent environmental reporting.

"You don't get to mark your own test in school, and the Government shouldn't be allowed mark its own report on the environment.

"The public deserve to be told the truth about the state of our environment, even if it is politically inconvenient for the Government of the day.

"It's not good enough to give the PCE a review role for national environmental reporting; the Government should resource the PCE to produce robust environmental reporting.

"The PCE reports to Parliament while the Ministry for the Environment reports to the Environment Minister, this difference is important."

Ms Sage said the 2007 State of the Environment Report was written by the Ministry for the Environment, which suppressed the thirteenth and final chapter because it made the politically unpalatable assertion that pastoral land-use intensification was 'arguably the largest pressure today on New Zealand's land, freshwaters, coastal oceans and atmosphere'. She said the thirteenth chapter only saw the light of day when the Green Party released it.

"The PCE told Select Committee last year that it would cost an additional $1.6 million annually to resource the office to undertake state of the environment reporting. The Government should provide those funds,” said Ms Sage.

"There was public support for independent state of the environment reporting by the PCE in response to Government discussion paper on the issue.

"New Zealand is the only country in OECD which does not have legislation establishing independent state of the environment reporting yet we promote New Zealand as 100% Pure. Robust, truly independent state of the environment reporting is crucial to making that image real," said Ms Sage.

Reference:

2011 National Party policy on state of the environment reporting: https://www.greens.org.nz/misc-documents/nationals-2011-election-promise-state-environment-reporting

ends

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