The blue-green challenge

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.

27 Responses to The blue-green challenge

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    Elections are fickle things and National has experienced this itself when it got 20% of the vote in 2002 (They jumped to almost 40% in 2005). Obviously the Green Party were hoping for a better result in 2014, but there were some positives. Despite the drop in % we actually received 10,000 more votes than in 2011 and our membership grew substantially over the past year. 450 new members joined immediately after the election and the Roy Morgan poll gave us 17.5% (our best ever poll). One could easily assume that many voters may have wished they had voted Green after the election.

    A lot does come down to media profile in the last week and Winston Peters is the master of capturing media attention at this crucial time.

    As for National’s five conservation achievements:

    1) Well done with the marine reserves, more reserves will always be a good thing and National should be congratulated for that. I am just disappointed that they are going to allow mining prospecting in marine reserves and the book ‘Catch’ has revealed the enormous effort needed to make sure any fishing in our territorial waters is sustainably managed (it isn’t at present) and it looks as if our Mauis Dolphins will become extinct.

    2) Well done too with the cycleway network, the Greens have supported this to as part of our 2008 memorandum of understanding. It’s a pity that safe cycling in urban areas has not had the same support and the NZTA has only a handful of people employed to support cycling. We are well behind Europe with this and even New York has introduced safe cycling routes throughout the city.

    3) The pest control initiative and the use of 1080 will be heavily debated, but it is the only practical way of dealing with pests in our native forests. National and Nick Smith deserve to be applauded for doing this. It is just a pity that the ongoing work of the Department of Conservation has been greatly limited by huge budget cuts. The $30 million spent on pest control should be regarded in context of the $70 million cut from DoCs budget and the hundreds of DoC employees that have lost their jobs. One step forward and two back?

    4) New Zealand has one of the highest levels of volunteering in the world but there is growing concern that the Government is relying too much on good will and dedicated people who put the environment and the welfare of others before themselves. Many volunteers feel passionate about the work they do but it is at a personal cost. The founder of KidsCan was interviewed recently and voiced concern that she was having to do what the Government should be doing. The $27 million to be spent encouraging volunteers to do conservation work will be replacing, to a large extent, the $70 million cut from employing properly trained people.

    5) Fresh water quality is actually declining according to most scientists and while the initiatives planned by National will help, more is being spent on expanding the causes of much of our water pollution. We are growing our dairy herds faster than we can manage the environmental effects.

    6) You could have added something else, the MoA with the Greens also involved cleaning up toxic sites like the old Tui Gold Mine. This is another positive thing and could be continued to deal with the thousands of toxic sites all over New Zealand where old dump sites existed and many are leaching toxins into the surrounding environments.

    There is only so long that people will tolerate lack of real action to deal with the causes of our child poverty, our housing shortage and the growing global concern around climate change. Market forces won’t save us, we need substantial Government leadership and it won’t come from this one.

  2. Mr E says:

    ” Fresh water quality is actually declining according to most scientists ”

    Can you provide a survey of scientists that corroborates this finding?


  3. Paranormal says:

    DK – it depends what your proposed solution for “poverty” ™ actually is. So far National seems to have the right recipe – improving the economy and getting individuals out of dependency on social welfare.

    So far the Greens proposed response is to throw more money at those on welfare to rap them even further into dependency. Whilst that works to secure the Greens a voting bloc, it doesn’t actually solve the problem.

    As for volunteering for conservation work we need to encourage people to get out of the malls and involved in the outdoors. Your ‘properly trained’ approach smacks of Forest & Bird elitism that will eventually erode the value we hold as a nation in our outdoors.

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, the Environment Commissioner, award winning scientist Mike Joy, The New Zealand Fresh Water Sciences Society scientists have collectively voiced concern about our declining water quality:

    Click to access PCE-Water-Quality-in-New-Zealand.pdf

    A survey of fresh water scientists may indeed be useful but sadly despite well over 90% climate scientists claiming that much climate change is man made this doesn’t appear to have had the impact it should.

    Paranormal, The Greens do not believe that just throwing welfare at poor people is the answer, which is why most of our policies are about making communities and families more resilient and self reliant. Wages should be livable and people should be taught and assisted in helping themselves. I’m sure you would support this too. Many people are just poor, we have around 5% unemployment and yet 25% of our families are struggling financially and (according to the Salvation Army) 1 in 120 people are homeless.

    I totally support the importance of getting people out into the outdoors (I especially understand the benefits of this as a past outdoor education instructor). But I know many people, many elderly, who are working long hours doing what should be paid work. The fossilised forest and Yellow Eyed penguin reserve at Curio Bay is a huge tourist attraction in Southland. I was once talking to a Ranger who was working long days monitoring the site as the penguins were nesting and working with tourists and discovered that he was an unpaid volunteer. He was given a caravan to sleep in but had to cover all his living costs himself. This sort of thing is common around the country.

  5. TraceyS says:

    “This sort of thing is common around the country.”

    How terrible!

    In a country where jobs are plentiful someone with a passion for something is so poor he is forced to work at it for nothing!

  6. Paranormal says:

    Just like the staffers at the Green Party, TraceyS, that are expected to work for no pay – how disgraceful.

  7. TraceyS says:

    I work with lots of volunteers, Paranormal, and for the most part they do it because they are passionate about the cause or just like staying busy; in retirement, for example.

    They know full-well that being paid would fundamentally change the relationship and self-determination theory explains empirically why this is so.

    I too have used the link to the Green Party’s job ad previously, but in truth, I see nothing wrong with that – provided a person is approaching the opportunity of their own free will and the expectations are clear at the outset. It’s fantastic that we live in a country where people are able to take up fascinating opportunities like working for the Green Party for free.

    However, like you, I dislike hypocrisy.

  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    Nothing is wrong with volunteering but the Government is deliberately removing skilled jobs and replacing them with volunteers. The worry is that we may have a repeat of the Cave Creek disaster, when volunteers are given responsibilities beyond their skill set.

    In relation to the Greens use of interns, I think all parties use them but what has become problematic is the Government increasing the budget for the Prime Minister’s office and the Government Caucus considerably but there has been no increase in the staffing budget for opposition parties since 2007. Given inflation over seven years this is a considerable cut.

  9. RBG says:

    TraceyS doesn’t like hypocrisy,then admits she has used the link to criticise the Greens in the past, when she actually supports interns volunteering! Classic TraceyS, more free thinking.

  10. Paranormal says:

    RPG turning himself in knots to avoid the obvious Green Hypocrisy.

    DK – you suggest volunteers are clueless and skiless. You haven’t spent much time in the bush have you?

    The real problem we have with DOC is there are too many Wellington based degreed up eco-worriers (pun intended) doing ‘advocacy’ and not enough workers maintaining tracks and pulling ragwort.

  11. Mr E says:

    “voiced concern”


    “water quality is actually declining”

    I call that a ‘back peddle’.

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    “you suggest volunteers are clueless and skiless.”

    Certainly not, but we have lost some very good DoC people with specialist knowledge. Of course there are very able volunteers but the Cave Creek story was a valuable lesson we need to remember.

    I think that you will find that DoC is a very lean machine compared with many other Government Departments and you appear to be implying that advocacy isn’t important. I would have thought that environmental advocacy is highly important given Simon Bridges decision to open up Victoria Forest Park for mining when he didn’t actually know that the conservation area existed.

    Mr E, call it what you like, read the links 😉

  13. Paranormal says:

    DK – DOC’s role is managing the conservation estate. IMHO they do a very poor job in keeping it clear of pest species and maintaining facilities. They also have been inundated with Wellington based eco-worriers that have been indoctrinated with the Forest and Bird “trees good people bad” mentality. In general terms the head office advocacy has been to the detriment of the good people in the field. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

    What we are seeing now with DOC being forced to engage with the community to meet their short term goals is for the long term benefit of the conservation estate and the country.

    You pushing your typical headline driven politically motivated greenwash is only to be expected I suppose. Particularly when your recipe would be to the longterm detriment of conservation. BTW I have been involved with DOC at head office level and have seen with my own eyes what goes on in that lofty ivory tower.

  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, my experience of DoC has always shown a strong engagement with volunteers and local communities (but perhaps that is just my region). I also personally know many at high levels of DoC management and your description of them as eco-worriers is interesting as it implies there is nothing to worry about. My experience of these people is that they are highly informed and knowledgeable about conservation, but are forced to work with a Government that isn’t. It was very telling that Simon Bridges knew nothing about vast areas of land he has signed off for mining exploration.

  15. Paranormal says:

    DK thank you for proving my point

  16. Mr E says:

    I’ve read all those links before.

    I have problems with the PCE report. To put it simply, it is based on the multiplication of 2 model outputs. Each model has an error, one model known – the other model not known. Even if they were conservative errors of 30% (which they are likely to be higher, one is higher). Multiply the 2 errors together and you get ! very large error (propogation of errors). The PCE has not dealt with the issue of error.
    And to be honest history seems to point out flaws in the Report. It suggests phosphate will increase with Dairy conversions. But monitoring shows phosphate has declined while the ‘dairy Boom’ has occurred.

    Dr Mike Joy – when does he recognise the positive gains made in water quality Dave? I don’t think he promotes a balanced view, such that science should.

    I’m still getting over the fact you called elections fickle Dave. That blows my mind. NZ’ers decision – fickle. I’d suggest – you did a ‘Stefan’ making comments like that.

  17. TraceyS says:

    “I too have used the link to the Green Party’s job ad previously, but in truth, I see nothing wrong with that…”

    I don’t like hypocrisy, RBG @7:11am, but I like misrepresentation even less.

    The link was not used by me to “criticise the Greens in the past”. It was used to mirror to Dave Kennedy practices within his own party which are not too dissimilar to practices that he himself criticised.

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you misrepresent my again. The Government is replacing DoC jobs that were previously paid with volunteers. It is the Government that determines DoCs budget and what that mix would like like. The Government also determines the staffing budget for opposition parties. Within our party we have increased paid staff as our income increases but our MPs are having to work with a diminishing budget that is imposed on them. The National Government has increased the budget for the PMs office and the Government Caucus but cut those for the opposition (no increase since 2007).

  19. RBG says:

    Mr E, you say science should present a balanced view, NO, science presents it as it finds it. If Mike Joy finds polluted rivers, he’s allowed to say so. He’s not required to look for unpolluted ones to fit with some weird idea of ‘balance’ that you hold. According to the MFE most lowland rivers in NZ are polluted and not getting better, you know, all those ‘stable’ dirty rivers you, and the other dairy cheerleaders lump in with the improving ones to mislead the public.

  20. TraceyS says:

    Dave, I am not misrepresenting you at all. When I made reference to the Green Party’s unpaid worker vacancy it was another time and another topic.

    You are conflating my comments with those of Paranormal. Not a sound platform from which to shout “misrepresentation”.

  21. Mr E says:

    “According to the MFE most lowland rivers in NZ are polluted and not getting better.”

    Can you qualify this statement please.

  22. Dave Kennedy says:

    “It was used to mirror to Dave Kennedy practices within his own party which are not too dissimilar to practices that he himself criticised.”

    As I explained, the situation is very different.

  23. Mr E says:

    Also RBG, I meant to say
    “NO, science presents it as it finds it. If Mike Joy finds polluted rivers, he’s allowed to say so.”
    So Mike Joy only see’s bad – I see. Joyous.

  24. TraceyS says:

    Dave, your pinhead dancing reveals discomfort.

    I wish you would just fess up and say that you are uncomfortable with free labour under any circumstances. The “all parties do it” line of defense is a weak one and you know it.

  25. TraceyS says:

    ^ the person not being paid is hardly comforted by knowing that he’s not alone.

    Unless….hmmmm….unless he actually enjoys volunteering in which case he will most certainly be buoyed by knowing there is a big team of co-volunteers to collaborate with.

    Nothing worse than being a lone volunteer, Dave. Try looking on the bright side 🙂

  26. RBG says:

    Mr E, go read the MFE link YOU usually put up. Mike Joy measures what is actually there, he’s a scientist not a PR hack. If his objective measurements show the rivers are ‘bad’, then he will say so. You are just ‘shooting the messenger’. TraceyS, you take pinhead dancing to olympic levels.

  27. Mr E says:

    RBG ,
    The MFE link (presumably the river condition indicator) talks about trends not state. There is no pollution reference – Just an analysis of trends. I should have known better. I thought you might have had useful information.

    As far as I am aware “According to the MFE most lowland rivers in NZ are polluted and not getting better.” – does not exist. I’m happy to consider any reference material that you might have that suggests otherwise. Until then – I call that poppy.

    “Mike Joy measures what is actually there, he’s a scientist not a PR hack.” Comedy Gold – right there.

    “You are just ‘shooting the messenger’.” You seem to be saying that Mike only see’s bad, by presenting only a negative view. No positive information exists.

    This link explains it all:

    What is really unfortunate is your slate of lowland water ways is wrong according to MFE and others. Phosphate appears to be improving in all of the categories presented. Indigneous forest, exotic forest, pasture and urban sites have all shown trends for improvement. Not in all sites, most sites are stable – but there are more improving than declining in every category.

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