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Posts Tagged ‘Environment Minister Amy Adams’

National MPs – giving us the finger in election year

18 July 2014 2 comments

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National MPs and ministers have been busy this year with more botch-ups, scandals, an attempted smear campaign, and spinning bullshit to cover their arses with multiple policy failures in health, education, the environment, child poverty, etc, etc, etc…

The fact that National still appears to be riding high in political polls speaks more for a population heavily sedated by trivia and superficial “news” reporting, and for mind-numbingly inane mass-entertainment – rather than any actual success.

Some of the more mind-blowing comments that have recently been made by National ministers have flown below the radar.

Amy Adams

Our so-called “Environment” Minister, Amy Adams, recently dismissed Dr Mike Joy’s criticisms of National’s new water standards.

Dr Joy stated;

But Dr Mike Joy, an environmental ecologist at Massey university, says the new standards are a “backwards step for fresh water”.

“You could just drive a truck through it,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

“There’s so many gaps, so many things we’ve been measuring up until now that they’ve dropped.”

The changes put limits on the amount of toxins and bacteria that can be present in water, which the Government says will require some communities and farms to improve their waste-disposal systems.

But the weakening of other limits were essentially a “licence to pollute,” Joy said, and would allow for a big increase in the amount of pollution in rivers.

“We’ve got a decline going on,” he said.

“Rivers are getting worse, lakes are getting worse. This should be something that puts the brakes on, but instead it’s an opening-up. It’s like lifting the speed limit from 50kmh to 500kmh – that’s the kind of level of change around nitrate pollution.”

Joy said more than 90 per cent of rivers in lowland areas – those coming from urban areas and farms – were already too dangerous to swim in.

To which Adams responded;

Ms Adams also corrected the Green Party’s and Dr Joy’s comparison of nitrogen levels in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers to those in the Yangtzee River.

“Although the Yangtze River indeed has serious pollution issues, nitrogen is not the core pollutant there.

In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the primary issue for the Yangtze River is industrial and sewage waste and the management of sediments, rather than nitrogen.”

What the World Wide Fund for Nature (which Adams mis-quoted) really stated was;

“The major pollutants in the Yangtze mainstem are suspended substances, oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds, and ammonia nitrogen. This has severely reduced drinking water quality and contributed to dramatic eutrophication.”

And from the Science Daily;

For the first time, a team including foreign scientists was authorized by the Chinese government to study water quality on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River…

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For example, nitrogen concentrations have approximately doubled over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, concentrations of dissolved nitrogen were twice as high as at the Three Gorges Dam, reflecting the increasing use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture…

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However, where the river enters the East China Sea, the huge pollutant loads are expected to have devastating effects: each day, 1500 tonnes of nitrogen is discharged, causing eutrophication and growth of blue-green algae in the coastal waters…

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In the Yangtze, concentrations of nitrogen, metals and organic compounds are increasing, as shown by comparisons with earlier measurements in the literature.

As usual with right-wingers, it pays to check their “facts”. They’re usually bullshit. (As well as batshit crazy.)

Dr Mike Joy – 1

Amy Adams – 0

Paula Bennett

Bennett seems not to know where she stands on the problem of New Zealand’s hidden rape culture.

On 10 July, on TV3’s Third Degree, Bennett accepted the reality of our rape culture;

And you can see it in the language that is used by some people. You can certainly see it in pretty much a pub or a nightclub in New Zealand on most weekends to be quite frank. So we have a lot of education to do there, I think.”

Two days later, she changed her mind, this time on TV3’s The Nation;

I wouldn’t say that we’ve got a rape culture or a sexual violence culture in New Zealand…

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I think what we do in New Zealand is we report more [sexual violence] than any other country. So actually some of those that are being reported are incidences that haven’t even led to violence.”

On 10 July, on Third Degree,  Bennett accepted that her government had failed Tania Billingsley;

Could things have been handled differently? We’re the first ones that have said yes it should have been. But for her I feel incredibly sad that the incident has happened in the beginning. And that’s where most of her hurt and anger is.”

Again, after two days, Bennett’s views seemed to have changed, as this exchange on The Nation showed;

Lisa Owen: “Ok, so how do you think that your male colleagues handled the alleged assault on Tania Billingsley and the departure of the Malaysian diplomat? Did they lose sight of the victim? Did they trivialise that?

Paula Bennett: “Well look I’m not prepared to go into what has happened in that case.  But my short answer to that would be no.”

How can a politician not keep her story straight within only a 48 hour period?!

Then again, this is the same politician who made full use of the Training Incentive Allowance to gain a free University education for herself – and then promptly dumped it in 2009.

Paula Bennett (2.0)

On TV’s The Nation, Lisa Owen took Paula Bennett to task on our growing endemic rate of child poverty. Owen pointed out to Bennett;

“…people like Jonathan Boston say that eradicating poverty is a political choice. Is it just that you’re not making a big enough political choice? A billion dollars, an extra billion dollars a year he said will make an enormous dent in this.”

To which Bennett replied with the stock-standard come-back from right-wing witless politicians;

I don’t think it’s throwing more money at it across the board if you like…

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It is not going to be throwing more money at those on welfare...”

Because, as we all know, “throwing money” at the poorest in our society apparently doesn’t work to pull children out of poverty.

But “throwing money” at corporations such as Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, Charter Schools,  et al, to “create jobs” or give “choice for better education” to parents, does work.

Or “throwing money” at people by way of tax cuts works to “stimulate the economy“.

Strangely, “throwing money” at welfare beneficiaries –  by way of a Training Incentive Allowance –  helped former solo-mother,  Paula Bennett, obtain a free tertiary education and she is currently (until 20 September) a  highly-remunerated Minister of the Crown.

So why is “throwing money” by way of corporate welfare; tax-cuts; Charter school subsidies, etc, a ‘good‘ thing – but “throwing money” at poverty to eliminate this scourge from 21st century New Zealand – is a ‘bad‘ thing?!

National ministers have yet to answer this question.

God knows we “throw enough money” at them with their generous salaries.

Simon Bridges

This was one of National’s  election platforms in 2011;

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Staying strong on crime“.

Except when National decides that a particular law is “inconvenient”. Then it will instruct it’s ministeries not to prosecute offenders. As Minister Simon Bridges recently instructed the Labour Inspectorate;

 

Radio New Zealand has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show the Labour Inspectorate has moved away from the proactive approach to enforcement and has redistributed its efforts to crack down on illegial migrant workers.

Traditionally labour inspectors have been out on the streets at Easter, catching out shop owners who open illegally, but will now wait for members of the public to complain about shops being open and will follow those up with warning letters.

Special briefing notes from the Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason to the minister show the inspectorate has questioned the effectiveness of the shop trading act, which allows for a $1,000 penalty for breaches of the law.

In many cases the judicial system was reluctant to impose the maximum fine, Mr Mason told the minister.

He said in recent years not many complaints from the public were received and this year not a single shop was prosecuted for opening at Easter.

[…]

But Simon Bridges said shops can still be prosecuted and will be if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary.

The law will be upheld – if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary?!

When a government will not uphold the law because it conflicts with their own ideological stance – then why have laws at all?

And can the rest of us pick and choose which laws are convenient to uphold, and which we can break?

It appears so…

Mr Bridges is showing us the way.

Murray McCully

After the debacle of the Malaysian diplomat, accused of burglary and attempted rape, and the question over why Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully failed to keep track over events in his own ministry, an inquiry was launched on 11 July.

McCully stated;

A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public.”

Although one wonders just how “ thorough and transparent” any inquiry will be when,

  1. The terms of reference do not include Murray  McCully’s actions. This effectively gives the minister an ‘escape clause’ from the fiasco.
  2. John Key has already pre-determined who the guilty party is, within the Ministry,  when he stated on 4 July; “If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job.”
  3. Rob Hosking from the National Business Review suggested that the Inquiry will “not likely to be [completed] before the September 20 election”. How ‘convenient’.

Hekia Parata

On 8 June 2012, as National’s planned to increase class-room sizes blew up in their faces with a combined teacher-parent revolt, I wrote;

Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,

  “The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.”

Sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged.

That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of  reduction in  social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.

Two years later: On 7 July, Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, spoke to National’s  accident-prone Hekia Parata and put it to her that Labour’s plans  to reduce class-room sizes by 2018 were proving very popular with parents. Ferguson pointed out that Labour’s policy was in direct opposition with Parata’s  humiliating failure to increase class-room sizes.

At 3.05 into the interview, Parata replied,

And at the time we were in a different fiscal environment and we were focusing right then on how did we find the money to invest in quality. And now we’re in a better fiscal environment, we can do both,both more teachers and more quality...”

Which is confirmation, if any was needed, that National’s plans to reduce teacher numbers and increase class-room sizes was nothing more than an outrageous cost-cutting exercise. Happily, it failed as New Zealanders stood up, en masse, and told National,

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New Zealanders were not prepared to sacrifice their children’s learning and future on the alter to National’s cost-cutting. If Key and his cronies were foolish enough to cut taxes as part of their 2008 election bribes, it was most certainly not going to be paid for by the children of the middle classes.

So far, #Teamkey seems to be going ‘swimmingly’ well.

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References

Fairfax media: Water rule changes seen as ‘licence to pollute’

World Wildlife Fund: Threat of Pollution in the Yangtze

Science Daily: First-ever Precise Data On Yangtze Water Quality

TV3: Minister agrees with diplomat’s alleged victim

TV3: The Nation Interview – Paula Bennett (transcript)

NBR: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

Scoop media: Warner Brothers Hobbit Deal a $67 Milllion Farce

NZ Herald: Editorial – Charter schools will give poorer parents choice

Beehive.govt.nz: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes

Radio NZ: Govt defends trading law enforcement

Dominion Post: Malaysian diplomat case inquiry head named

NZ Herald: Diplomat case: Court file released

TV3: Ministerial inquiry launched into diplomat case

Interest.co.nz: Key suggests mid-level MFAT diplomat “considers career options”

NBR: McCully announces inquiry into MFAT’s handling of Malaysian diplomat allegations

Scoop media:  Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Radio NZ:  Listen Hekia Parata on Morning Report

Radio NZ:  Labour pledges to reduce class sizes

Previous related blogposts

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy


 

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Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2014.

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National ditches environmental policies

1 November 2012 14 comments

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Continued from: ETS – National continues to fart around

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Continuing an analysis of National’s track record on environmental concerns…

“Green Key”

From a speech given by John Key in September, 2008 – about three months prior to being elected Prime Minister,

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

Our environment isn’t just a bonus.  It’s part of being a Kiwi.  It underpins our enviable quality of life. It gives us an in-built edge over many of our economic rivals.  I’m thinking, for example, of what Australia would do for our abundant water resources.  And, increasingly, New Zealand’s environmental credentials will underpin our prosperity and our trade profile…

… One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere…

… Labour has talked big talk on the environment but all too often it has failed to deliver.  

• Labour promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% – but instead they have gone up by 20%.
• Labour promised a target of 90% renewable electricity by 2021 – but the actual proportion of renewables has sunk to an all-time low.
• Labour promised 250,000 hectares of additional trees by 2020 – but the past three years has seen the worst deforestation since records began…

Source:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

Key went on to say,

I urge you to read our environment policy in full. But let me pick out some highlights.

First, this policy underlines National’s commitment to addressing global climate change.  We view this as the most serious environmental challenge of our time

National believes that New Zealand, as a responsible international citizen, and as a country that values our clean, green environment, must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This policy sets out our commitment to that goal.

National will set an achievable emissions reduction target for New Zealand.  We seek a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050.  50 by 50.  We will write the target into law.

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

Our approach to future international negotiations will be to work with fellow countries on finding a pragmatic way to include large emitters like China, the United States, India, and Brazil.  It’s clear that the absence of these large emitters from any post-Kyoto agreement would severely compromise global progress on this issue.

In order to achieve domestic emission reduction, National will pursue sound, practical environmental policies.  We want to reduce emissions in ways that result in least cost to society and the economy.

To that end, we consider a well-designed, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be the best tool available for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy.

National’s pledge to  “consider a well-designed, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be the best tool available for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy” has turned into a farce.

Up until April/May 2010, Key maintained National’s position on the ETS,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

“Greenish-grey Key”

But by  November 2011 Environment Minister Nick Smith announced,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet.

On August of this year,  National introduced legislation to remove agriculture and the egg industry from the ETS, entirely,

…remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

See previous blogpost for full timeline: ETS – National continues to fart around

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Full story

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So there we have it.  From noble promises made in 2008 – to the abandonment of agriculture being included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Another broken promise from a broken “government”.

Did John Key ever really intend to include agriculture  in the Emissions Trading Scheme? I suspect not. As with so many of  National’s fine-sounding promises, it was all electioneering. They told us what we wanted to hear.

“Coal-black Key”

As if the gradual, covert,  watering down the ETS was not enough – there are now indications that National intends to abandon New Zealand’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol,

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Full story

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Key seemed more supportive of the Kyoto Protocols  in 2008,

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto

So let me be very clear today: National is serious about reducing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.  We will ensure that a New Zealand ETS is introduced on 1 January 2010.

As usual, John Key and the National Party have been big on rhetoric and promises – but poor on action. Sadly for New Zealand,  the reality of their policies has been a sustained undermining of  environmental protections.

From La La Land…

To really highlight what National thinks of environmental concerns, one need only consider their plans to scrap the  vital State of the Environment Report.

There is an element of absurdity  to this issue that is difficult to fathom,

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Source

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From the same speech John Key gave in September 2008,

Environmental management has been further compromised by the poor performance of the Environment Ministry and the lack of independent monitoring of New Zealand’s progress towards environmental goals.

National believes Kiwis are ready to do things differently.  We want to strengthen the incentives for co-operation in the pursuit of shared environmental goals. 

So, National will invite stakeholders to work with us to reach agreement on up to 20 national environment goals to be achieved by specific dates, at the latest by 2030. To give those goals some real resonance we will introduce a new Environmental Reporting Act.  This will require the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to conduct independent five-yearly State of the Environment Reports.

This is the same pledge, to demand independent five-yearly State of the Environment Reports, that the Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, now dismisses,

Waiting five years to measure the state of our environment might be good enough for the opposition parties but not this Government.”

See: National scraps crucial environmental report

The absurd irony is  that a National Minister is dismissing a policy that her boss – the Prime Minister – advocated four years ago! The five-yearly State of the Environment Reports was not Opposition policy – it was John Key’s idea!!!

This is Orwellian re-writing of history at it’s most ludicrous and laughable: dismissing National Party initiatives by blaming them on opposition parties!

Folks, New Zealand politics doesn’t get more Monty Pythonesque than this!

100% 48% Pure!

As a result of  National’s covert disregard for our environment, ongoing poor environmental policies and actions have become manifest in ways that are becoming harder and harder to hide from public attention,

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Source

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What New Zealanders fail to comprehend is that the degration of our environment doesn’t just mean we’ll be able to swim less and less in our once-clean rivers – but that the rest of the world will soon begin to realise that our “100% Pure” and “Clean & Green” image” is bogus.

That’s when our reputation for environmental protection will be revealed as a sham and our exports for  primary produce will begin to be affected.

How long will it be before international media turn their gaze upon our slowly degrading environment?

How long before our rivers are as polluted as China’s?

And how long before international markets turn away from our products, or pay us less for our produce?

If we’re going to treat our rivers as toilets, why should tourists come here to New Zealand?

If anything has demonstrated Dear Leader’s change-of-heart from 2008, it is his ‘sudden’  conversion from Environmental Champion to backer of the minining lobby.

Green Key is gone.

Coal-black Key has arrived.

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Full story

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Track records, broken records

In 2008,  John Key encouraged,

“I urge you to read our environment policy in full.”

So do I –  Speech: Environment Policy Launch

In doing so you, the reader, will find out for yourself just how dishonest Key and National have been, and how badly our environment – which forms the economic backbone of this country – is now being systematically degraded for narrow, short-term gain.

True to form, even as John Key smiled benignly upon the country – he has let New Zealanders down.

And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

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Additional

Fairfax Media: AgResearch stalls ‘damaging’ report

Radiolive: Nats are sacrificing our environment… for what?

Other blogs

Tumeke: John Key’s invisible New Zealand

Truthdig: The Fallacy Behind Environmental Protection and Economic Growth

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Fiji, Canterbury, and deferred elections

7 September 2012 1 comment

Announced in July 2010,

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Full story

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So let’s see if this blogger has sussed this correctly…

Postponing an election in Fiji is a bad thing, with Dear Leader demanding that the Fijians tow the line,

Nothing I’ve seen would mean that Mr Bainimarama would have any reason other than to hold elections in 2014 if he’s a man of his word.”

“Man of his word”! Good! Well said, Dear Leader, well said. Coup  leaders who over-turn democratically-elected institutions need to be held to account.

Uh oh…

Announced today (7 September),

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Source

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But… but…  Prime Minister John Key said that pledges to hold an election should be honoured!?

What’s going on here?

Surely, Dear Leader is not having one standard for our Fijian cuzzies, and one for himself? That would be… hypocritical.

Let me say one last thing – Nothing I’ve seen would mean that Mr Key would have any reason other than to hold elections in 2013 if he’s a man of his word.

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Other Blogs

Christchurch a guinea pig for National’s absurd idea’s

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