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Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

9 January 2013 8 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Environment

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The rhetoric:

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.

see:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

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.

See: Ibid

The reality:

National’s track record in environmental conservation and protection has been as expected; bad. And getting worse with each policy release.

On the agenda are;

  • Fracking – a process that has been shown overseas to induce small earthquakes; contamination of underground water tables; risks to air quality;  gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals escaping to the surface; mishandling of toxic waste chemicals;  and  health effects on humans and animals.
  • Increased mining actitivity in sensitive ecological  areas such as the Denniston Plateau.
  • Allowing deep sea drilling to go ahead despite New Zealand being woefully unprepared for a major oil spill such as happened in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. (see:  Deepwater Horizon)
  • A watering down of a proposed fishery protection reserve in the Ross Sea.
  • New Zealand was the only country to vote against  protection marine mammals at the International Union for Conservation of Nature conference.
  • And the abandonment of  New Zealand’s participation in the Kyoto Protocol.

Perhaps the most scurrilous, dishonest act, was National’s gradual backtracking on the ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme).

On  May 2008,  John Key stated,

National supports the principle of the ETS and is following the select committee process closely. National has had reservations about the timing of new taxes on motorists and households when there has been no personal tax relief for so long.”

See: ‘Carbon neutral’ policy added to scrap heap

On 8 April 2010, Key confirmed that the ETS would be preserved unchanged,

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

See: ETS changes ‘unlikely’ despite pleas

By 6 June 2010, the then-Climate Minister,  Nick Smith announced that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme  in 2015  would depend on technological advances and what other countries do.

See: ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister

And on  9 November 2011,  Nick Smith announced,

It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet. The lack of any practical and real technologies to reduce agricultural emissions means it would only impose a cost or tax on our most important export industry. It would also have New Zealand too far ahead of our trading partners on climate change mitigation measures. National will review the position in 2014 and only include agriculture if new technologies are available and more progress is made internationally on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

See: National would phase in ETS obligations for transport, electricity, industrial sectors; Will review Agriculture in 2014, will only put it in if technology to help is there

By 3 July 2012, Key began to publicly vacillate,

John Key says the Government will wait for other countries to follow suit before introducing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme…

See: Govt puts off including agriculture in ETS

And on 20 August 2012, National introduces the “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012″, which would remove agricultural emmissions indefinitely, and will,

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

See: Government announces ETS amendments

It took them four years to do it, with some cunning public manipulation (and outright lies) – but National achieved it’s real agenda,

  1. Watering down the ETS until it was toothless,
  2. Keeping agriculture (the worst emitter of greenhouse gases in NZ) out of the ETS
  3. Abandoning the Kyoto protocol

See previous blogpost for further details: ETS – National continues to fart around

Perhaps New Zealanders don’t quite realise that when National talks of being “blue-green” – they are referring to the colour of money – not conservation.

The response:

National’s response to our growing environmental problems?

Shoot the messenger.

In November 2012, Environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy, told the unvarnished truth to the world that our “100% Pure” and “Clean & Green” image was largely a myth. Dr Joy blew the cover on our dirty rivers; fouled lakes;  high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from our agricultural sector.

He told the New York Times,

There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.”

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

National’s Tim Groser did not like that one little bit, and responded with condemnation of Dr Joy,

It’s been used as a stick to beat New Zealand by environmental activists.”

See: Minister lashes out at environmentalists over 100% Pure

And Dear Leader added this confusingly disjointed bit, just to sheet home the message to all critics to ‘STFU’,

It’s like saying ‘McDonald’s, I’m loving it’ – I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it . . . it’s the same thing with 100% Pure. It’s got to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt.”

See: IBID

See previous blogposts: When spin doctors go bad, John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth

I wonder if Mr Groser or Dear Leader will be swimming or drinking water from any of these rivers,

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No swimming - 52% impure NZ rivers

Full story

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The result:

Meanwhile, Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index highlighted one simple fact; New Zealand has slipped on international EPI rankings.

In 2008, New Zealand ranked seventh out of 149 nations.

(See:  2008 Environmental Performance Index)

In 2012, our ranking dropped seven placings to number fourteen.

(See:  2012 Environmental Performance Index)

On every indicator and policy, New Zealand is doing poorly in the field of conservation. We are going backwards.

New Zealanders need to get their collective heads around one simple fact; giving priority to  environmental protection is not just a “good Greenie idea” (which it is, by the way) – but impacts on our $23 billion tourism industry and our $14.5 billion dairy and meat export industry.

Those who would damage or destroy our environment for short-term monetary gain,  sheer selfishness, or pigheaded ignorance,  are guilty of nothing less than economic treason against our country. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Unsworth! See previous related blogpost: Lobbyist stands by ‘ego trip’ email)

Addendum:

The only reason that National has not merited a “F” is that at least they backed down from mining in Schedule 4 Conservation lands, after a public outcry and 50,000-strong protest in Auckland (see: Huge protest says no to mining on conservation land) in May 2010.

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Report_Card_environment

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Bolivia, New Zealand, and Tony Kokshoorn

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As the economy continues to stagnatebusiness confidence plummets, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and other negative social and economic indicators feature in our daily media reporting,  National’s desperation for any means for economic growth becomes more apparent.

The national cycleway fizzled out; the Christchurch re-build moves at a snail’s pace; and the Sky City convention centre has become a liability as the public is (rightly) concerned about increasing problem gambling.

National continues to look at easy, quick-fix solutions. And nothing is easier as a quick-fix than digging a hole and extracting precious stuff. You can’t get easier than that.

Facing staunch public opposition, on  20 July 2010, National announced that it was backing away from mining in Conservation land. In an attempt to allay mounting public anger, Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee stated categorically,

At the time the discussion document was released, I made it clear that it was a discussion. There were no preconceived positions from the Government. We have no intention of mining national parks.”

See:  Govt confirms no mining Schedule 4, national parks

But it seems that the Nats cannot help themselves.  Like a kleptomaniac drawn to shiny things, National disclosed on 25 June,

The Government has confirmed plans to survey for minerals in world heritage sites on the West Coast.

Aeromagnetic surveying will be conducted in the South Island from Haast to Karamea, including large chunks of Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand world heritage area.

The surveying follows a similar project in Northland last year, when more than 13,590 square kilometres of the region were surveyed from February to August. That was followed by an announcement from Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley this month, of a competitive tender process for exploration permits for metallic minerals in the region. “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

They said were  “just looking“.

On the following day – probably sensing rising public unease – Dear Leader John Key rushed to reassure the public,

I can give you an assurance we won’t be mining on world heritage sites.   What we are doing is gathering information for a variety of other reasons.”

See:   Key: No mining in world heritage areas

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One wonders what Key’s “ variety of other reasons  ” are?!

As one media report states,

The Conservation Department says it is one the great natural areas of the world, with “landscapes of untouched beauty”.

The West Coast surveys will not include areas protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. However, the schedule does not prevent mining in world heritage areas such as Te Wahipounamu.

Economic Development Ministry spokeswoman Tracy Dillimore said yesterday that Te Wahipounamu would be surveyed to provide a good understanding of the geology and mineral potential of the wider area.

“New Zealand is potentially highly prospective for a wide range of minerals. The Government would like to see New Zealand maximise the benefits of safe and environmentally responsible development by reputable operators”.  “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

On 11 July, in response to a Herald-Digipoll, Grey District mayor, Tony Kokshoorn was invited to comment on the issue of mining on the West Coast, on Radio New Zealand’s  ‘Afternoon With Jim Mora’s‘ show.

To say that Kokshoorn was enthusiastic about mining – including open cast mining – would be the understatement of the year,

” … Look the benchmark has always been talked about in the last two years was when Gerry Brownlee said they were going to actually mine on Schedule 4  [DoC] land. What happened was you had a big protest  that was just alluded to a minute ago, down Queen Street and they said 50,000 went down there and that was taken as the benchmark and people were against mining on Conservation land.

But the benchmark is totally wrong. I mean, it’s a well known fact it was nothing like 50,000 people. It was more like only 25,000 or 30,000 people that marched in the first place, so it’s all out of kilter. The bottom line here is that  West Coasters  and a lot of people in New Zealand, they do want mining. They want to actually get  the wealth that’s in the ground, out, so we can have  good health, education, and policing. 

Why would we send our workers to Australia and the rest of the world, to earn big wages and earn those countries valuable overseas exchange when we can have it, and we can have wealth ourselves?

Jim Mora asked,

Even if it’s open-cast, a lot of it?

Mayor Kokshoorn replied,

Yes, of course. Look, it’s a pin-prick  on the surface. The West Coast runs from Karamea to Haast, which is the equivalent of Wellington through to Auckland.  It’s a huge, huge, area. We’re not going to ruin the crown jewel that we have, and which is our rain forest. We’re gonna make sure they stay intact.

There’s a big tourist industry round that and you got to go back to the fact that the Resource Management Act 1991 was put in place for that exact reason, and was to get a win/win so we can actually manage our environment and at the same time get economic development for our region. So for anyone to think that somehow we’re going to ruin it; we’re going to get the chainsaws out again; or we’re going to get the bulldozers out, that is just absolute rubbish.

Those days went many, many years ago. “

Source: Radio NZ   The Panel with David Slack and Ali Jones (Part 2)

Tony Kokshoorn sez “we’re not going to gret the bulldozers out again”. In which case,  pray tell, Mr Mayor, how do you propose to dig an open-cast mine? With f*****g teaspoons???

And how can he say that “those days went many, many years ago” – of chainsaws and bulldozers – when that is precisely how open cast mines are dug out of ground or mountains. Let us be absolutely candid and straight up; open cast mines are excavated with bulldozers and other massive earth-moving equipment.

The waste material – millions of tonnes of rock – has to be dumped somewhere.  Much of those tailings contain toxic heavy metals and other elements,

Mining can cause serious long-lasting water pollution through acid mine drainage. Copper, lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic can leach out when water contacts the exposed rock in mine workings or tailings. This pollution is very serious and can be a problem that remains long after a mine is abandoned.

On Mt Te Aroha, poisonous waste –  from just 90,000 cubic meters of tailings of the Tui mine, (which was abandoned in 1970 when the mining company went bankrupt) , is costing taxpayers over $17.5 million to attempt to fix. The Martha Mine will have over 40 million cubic meters of toxic tailings.  Which means the Tui Mine tailings are just 0.225% of  the volume of the Martha mine tailings !

See:  How would outstanding  areas  be degraded by gold mining?

To remind folk what an open-cast mine looks like, this is the Newmont mine in Waihi,

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Perhaps the most dubious claims made by the likes of Tony Kokshoorn, Steven Joyce, et al,  is that mining will create new jobs and increase our wealth.

As recently as 5 July, Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment”. “

See: Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

They almost always point to Australia as an example.

However, Australia’s wealth is predicated on several other factors as well,

  • A$1.3 trillion-dollar compulsory savings fund
  • Stable political system and economy
  • Strong trade union movement that ensures regular wage increases and protection of conditions
  • The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP. Source

Far from rolling in cash, Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years. Source

As well,

”  One single factor that undermines balance of payments is Australia’s narrow export base. Dependent upon commodities, the Australian government has endeavoured to redevelop the Australian manufacturing sector. “

See:  Balance of payments of Australia

So it appears that the mining industry is not quite the ‘gold mine‘ that many believe for Australia.

More to the point, in de-constructing the illusion that mining is some kind of economic ‘panacea‘,  is the example set by Bolivia. A cursory comparison of fiscal indicators between Bolivia and New Zealand yields some interesting facts,

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Bolivia

New Zealand

Population

10,629,000 [2]

4,416,000 [1]

Gross domestic product (2011)

US$24.604 billion [2]

US$161.851 billion [1]

Gross domestic product per capita (2011)

US$2,314.826 [2]

US$36,648.204 [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Total (2011)

$50.904 billion [2]

$122.193 billion [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita (2011)

$4,789.212 [2]

$27,668.367 [1]

Gini coefficient [3]

58.2 (high, 2009) [3]

36.2 (medium, 1997) [3]

Unemployment

5.5% (est.) [4]

6.5% (est.) [5]

Growth

5.1% (2011 est.) [4]

2% (2011 est.) [5]

Inflation

6.5% (2011 est.) [4]

4.5% (2011 est.) [5]

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Sources

[1] Source IMF

[2] Source IMF

[3] Source Wikipedia – The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example levels of income). A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has an exactly equal income). A Gini coefficient of 100 expresses maximal inequality among values (for example where only one person has all the income) .

[4]CIA Factbook

[5] CIA Factbook

Bolivia’s economy is heavily dependent on oil, gas, and mining,

Bolivia’s estimated 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $23.3 billion. Economic growth was estimated at about 5.1%, and inflation was estimated at about 6.9%. The increase in GDP primarily reflected contributions from oil and gas production (7.9%); electricity, water, and gas distribution (7.6%); construction (7.2%); transport and communications (6.0%); and financial services (5.5%). Exports rose by more than 30% between 2010 and 2011 to $9.1 billion, due mostly to increased commodity prices, not increased volume.

In 2011, Bolivia’s top export products were: hydrocarbons (45% of total exports), minerals (27%), manufactured goods (24%), and agricultural products (4%).

See: Wikipedia Bolivia Economy

Quite simply, Bolivia’s reliance on mining and hydrocarbons does not seem to have yielded the wealth that people like Key, Joyce, Kokshoorn, and others, are telling us should be our reward for digging bloody big holes in the ground.

Whilst the Bolivian GDP grew two and a half times that of New Zealand, the income appears not to  have “trickled down” to ordinary Bolivian workers.

In fact, as the chart above shows, GDP per capita and GDP Purchasing Power Parity per capita is greater for New Zealanders by several orders of magnitude, than it is for Bolivians.

Further GDP per Capita rankings can be found here:  List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita. Despite Bolivia’s higher  GDP growth, New Zealanders’ per capita incomes are far higher. Our standard of living is greater.

Accepted wisdom tells us  that our more diverse economy is more productive, and a  subsequently greater wealth-producer. Opportunities for higher wages (than Bolivia) abound throughout our economy that includes food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, as well as mining and hydro-carbon extraction.

As David Slack said on the same panel, hosted by Jim Mora, when he addressed the NZ Herald-Digipoll ‘support’ for mining,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

If mining was such a quick-fix wealth creator, then Bolivia should be light-years ahead of us. It clearly is not, and this blogger believes that our higher per capita income can be attributed to the  diversification  and sustainability of our economy.

It should also be remembered that, as David Slack  pointed out, New Zealand does not earn $100 million from the extraction of Mineral X. We benefit from only the royalties (currently set at  1 or  5 %), some taxes, and a few thousand jobs.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

This Fairfax article is  illuminating,

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Full story

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Compare,

” Crown royalties from the mining industry returned just $6.5 million last year… “

With,

” Mining was a $2b a year industry, with $1.1b in exports… “

Obviously, New Zealand makes bugger-all from mining royalties.

And if the mining companies are owned by offshore interests (eg; New Zealand’s two biggest gold mining companies; Newmont, which owns the open pit Martha Hill and underground Favona mines at Waihi, is US-based; and Australian-based OceanaGold), then profits made are remitted overseas, worsening our balance of payments. Only company tax (which can be minimised) and employment of local people provide any measurable benefits to our economy – and even those are minimal.

Where the mining activities result in a tax loss, this loss may be set off against income from non-mining activities, although the benefit of the mining loss is reduced by 50%; ie $300 of mining losses are required to be offset against $200 of non-mining income. The reasons for these unusual offset arrangements relate back to a period when mining companies paid a lower rate of tax than ordinary companies.

Mining companies are prohibited from grouping their profits or losses with other mining companies or with non-mining companies.

Despite these limitations, the tax regime for mining companies is generally regarded as concessionary. For example, it allows mining companies to immediately deduct their exploration expenditure and any expenditure incurred in the development of the mining licence. Thus buildings, mine-shafts, plant and machinery, production equipment and storage facilities, which would ordinarily be capitalised under standard accounting conventions, may be deducted immediately for income tax purposes.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

Further regarding taxation, the Fairfax article   states,

“… but the Government had not yet done any work on how much more tax or jobs could be created from expanding mining into conservation land.”

“More tax”?

Doubtful.

Dear Leader is already on record opposing the Capital Gains Tax, and any other tax for that matter,

National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes. “

See: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges

And lastly; jobs.

How many workers does the mining industry employ?

Number employed: 4,000 directly, another 8,000 indirectly, as suppliers of goods and services

See: Key Facts of New Zealand Mining

By comparison, the tourism sector plays a significant role in New Zealand’s economy,

Tourism Satellite Account 2011 Report [1 MB PDF]

Year to March 2011 (released October 2011)

  • Tourism Expenditure
    Total tourism expenditure was $23.0 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Contribution to GDP
    Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $6.9 billion, or 3.8 percent of GDP.  The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $8.8 billion to tourism. 
  • Domestic and International Segments
    Domestic tourism expenditure was $13.2 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Export Earnings
    International tourist expenditure in 2011 ($9.7 billion) represents 16.8% of the total export earnings ($52.4 billion).  Tourism is New Zealand’s second largest export earner, followed dairy ($11.6 billion or 19.9% of exports) in 2011. 
  • Tourism Employment
    The tourism industry directly employed 91,900 full-time equivalents (or 4.8 percent of total employment in New Zealand), an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourism Contribution to GST
    Tourists generated $1.7 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.

See:   Ministry of Economic Development – Tourism satellite account

It should not escape anyone that there is a high degree of irony here. A multi-billion dollar industry (tourism) relies on the very environment that the Mining industry would despoil with their activities.

To sum up;

  1. Mining is not as beneficial to a modern economy as some insist.
  2. Bolivia is a mining nation and is lagging behind New Zealand in per capita income.
  3. Bolivia’s GDP is growing 2.5 times faster than ours – but so is their inflation, whilst incomes still lag behind ours.
  4. Australia’s mining wealth is considerable – no doubt – but their balance of payments  is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years
  5. Australia is far too reliant on mining wealth; their economy is far too dependent on commodities; and they need to diversify.
  6. Crown Royalties are minimal – 1-5% .
  7. Big profits by foreign-owned mining companies leave New Zealand.
  8. Open cast mining creates a considerable impact on the environment, despite claims to contrary.
  9. Mining companies enjoy  a taxation regime that  “is generally regarded as concessionary”.
  10. And far more New Zealanders are employed in the Tourism sector than in the mining industry.

To repeat David Slack’s comments from Radio New Zealand,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

Whilst Dear Leader John Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment.

See:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

I know who I believe.

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Additional

NZ Herald:  Optimism dips in struggling economy

NZ Herald:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

Fairfax Media: NZ economic growth ‘unspectacular’

NZ Herald:  Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Crown Minerals Act 1991

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Guest Author: Why I Won’t Be Voting National

Tim Jones

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I won’t be voting National at this year’s General Election.

Now, this won’t come as a great surprise to those who know me. My opposition to the National Party started in the Muldoon years and hasn’t wavered since – so a government which is Muldoon 2.0, but with a friendlier smile, isn’t likely to appeal to me. I live in Wellington Central, and for the record, I will be giving the Green Party my party vote and Labour MP Grant Robertson my electorate vote.

But I think I have got some particularly good reasons for not voting National this time – and ironically, perhaps, they date from before the 2008 General Election. At that time, I was the Convenor (and I’m still a member) of the Sustainable Energy Forum, and, much to my surprise, I was invited to a lunch with National Energy spokesperson Gerry Brownlee and a whole lot of energy company heads.

I felt like a fish out of water, but more to the point, Gerry felt he was among friends, and he told those energy company heads, in no uncertain terms, that when National came to power the shackles would be off. They could forget any concerns the Labour Government might have had about climate change or the environment. You dig it or drill it or mine it, Gerry said, and we’ll back you up.

You could say many things about Gerry Brownlee, and I’d be happy to join you, but you couldn’t say that he hasn’t been true to his word. From the moment National came to power, they have shown a complete disregard for New Zealand’s and the world’s environment. While cynically promenading a “clean and green New Zealand” brand in international tourism markets, they have thrown the doors open at home to:

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  • Mining in National Parks – yes, they lost the first round on that issue, but they haven’t given up
  • Offshore oil drilling in waters even deeper and riskier than the Gulf of Mexico
  • The mining of massive quantities of lignite in Southland which would release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere
  • Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to extract more oil and gas – a dangerous technique which has already been shown to lead to both groundwater contamination and localised earthquakes when used overseas, and which has been banned by France, a country not known for its environmental credentials
  • A massive and vastly expensive programme of motorway building to serve the interests of the trucking industry, which is also being served by National’s downgrading of our rail system.

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In other words, National are taking our economy back to the 1950s and massively increasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

And how do National propose to reconcile all this with New Zealand’s international commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? They don’t, perhaps because the Cabinet is full of climate change sceptics – as recently as 2005, John Key professed himself among them. They simply hope that the international audiences to whom they promise action on climate change won’t notice what the Government is doing at home.

Now, there are lots of other excellent reasons not to vote for National. But New Zealand’s environment is the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth, and in turn, the liveability of New Zealand depends on the world having a liveable climate. John Key’s Government has shown utter disregard for any meaningful action on climate change, either with New Zealand or internationally, and complete contempt for the New Zealand environment. That’s why I won’t be voting National.

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(Tim Jones writes novels, short stories and poetry. He was awarded the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. You can contact Tim at senjmito@gmail.com. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/timjonesbooks.)

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