When National was at its nadir in 2002, Act to its right and United Future and New Zealand First on its left flank got their best results.
With Labour at such a low this year, the Green Party would have been expecting to pick up some of its support.
But while some New Zealand First and the Conservative Party picked up support on Labour’s right flank, the Green Party on its left didn’t do nearly as well as expected.
This suggests that the Green vote has reached its peak. However, there are still plenty of green votes looking for a home.
These are people who care and are concerned about environmental matters but are looking for a more moderate vehicle than the Green Party, especially on economic and social issues.
This provides an opportunity for National to convince them that the blue-green approach is working for New Zealand economically, environmentally and socially.
While the party, and government, are generally recognised for sound economic policies, many environmental initiatives aren’t recognised, or celebrate.
Among these are five conservation achievements:
This week is conservation week and a chance to reflect on the progress National has made for conservation since 2008. While Labour and the Greens fail to offer credible plans to grow our economy and protect our environment, National is pulling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. Here are National’s top five conservation achievements.
1. Ten new marine reserves in the last year
National have created a record number and area of new marine reserves this year, with five on the West Coast, three in the Sub Antarctic Islands, one at Akaroa and one at Kaikōura. New Zealand now has 44 marine reserves, bringing the total area of no-take areas of protection 9.5 per cent of our total territorial sea.
We’ve doubled the area of set net protection for Maui’s dolphin, introduced a ban on shark finning, introduced compulsory seismic survey regulations for protecting marine mammals, and created new whale and seal sanctuaries at Kaikōura.
National’s recreational fishing parks policy will also protect two of our largest coastal fishing areas from commercial fishing, helping marine life populations to grow and ensuring future generations can continue to enjoy our marine environment.
2. Developing the national cycleway network
Over 2500 kilometres of national cycleway network has now been completed under the National cycleway programme to grow tourism and make our natural environment more accessible, and four more cycle trails will be finished by the end of December 2014.
National has committed an additional $100 million in new funding to accelerate cycleways in urban centres.
3. Expanding pest control for over one million hectares of conservation land
National has initiated New Zealand’s largest-ever species protection programme, ‘Battle for our Birds’, to control rats, stoats and possums on over one million hectares of conservation land.
We’ve also committed over $30 million to containing and controlling kauri dieback, have tightened laws and toughened penalties for wildlife, conservation and biosecurity offending, and passed new freedom camping laws to prevent New Zealand’s outdoors being abused..
4. Establishing the Community Conservation Partnership to support community-led conservation
Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. To support this vital work, National established the Community Conservation Partnership Fund of $26 million over the next four years to support the voluntary work of community organisations.
5. Cleaning up our fresh water
In Government, National has proudly championed action on cleaning up our fresh water.
National has spent $101 million on water clean-up in our first four years of government compared to $17 million in Labour’s last four years – a five-fold increase – as well as committing over $350 million to clean-up historical contamination of our iconic waterways.
National will also spend $100 million over 10 years to buy and retire selected areas of farmland next to important waterways. Already, dairy farmers have done a fantastic job in voluntarily addressing some of the key issues. They have fenced over 23,000 kilometres of waterways – over 90 per cent of all dairy farm waterways. Our approach is about working collaboratively with farmers, water users and communities because you don’t get positive outcomes for the environment by penalising and taxing key industries.