Act leader and sole MP David Seymour’s first shot at the party’s conference this weekend was to pot the Greens for hypocrisy for having the highest expenditure on flights.
The figures come from the fourth quarter parliamentary expense reports. It excludes ministers who have a much heavier workload, for example the Ministers of Health and Education must visit hospitals and schools, and are reported separately.
In October, November, and December the average Green MP spent $8,562 on air travel. By comparison the average Labour MP spent $7,790, the average National MP $5,933 and the average New Zealand First MP $6713. . .
“These are the MPs who regularly tell us that climate change is the crisis of our time and we must reduce our emissions.
“It is also extraordinary that they do not even have to serve electorates, as the Greens are all list MPs and have not won an electorate since 1999. As an Auckland electorate MP I have to see constituents on Monday and be in Parliament on Tuesday, and back in the electorate Friday, practically every week.
“As list MPs the Greens have far more potential to minimise their carbon footprint by flying less, but not only have they not done so, they are the most frequent flyers.
“Co-leader James Shaw loves to tell the story about how, as a consultant, he helped companies reduce their use of air travel. The Green Party must be his toughest client.”
He then went on to out-green them with proposal to sell Landcorp and put the proceeds into a Sanctuary Trust for applicants who wish to operate inland sanctuaries for native wildlife.
“Landcorp is a business the Government should never have owned and which is responsible for considerable dairy conversion and deforestation.
“The new Trust’s grants would be conditional upon the applicant reaching targets for predator exclusion, biodiversity, and community participation.
“The model is not so very different from what ACT has done with Partnership Schools. Invite social entrepreneurship, measure performance according to agreed targets, and get out of the way.
“Over 100 years, Sanctuary Trust would radically transform the abundance of New Zealand’s most endangered species.” . . .
Utopia has a graph showing Landcorp’s dividends paid and cash injections received from government since 2007.
As cash cows go, Landcorp has had $2.25 million more in capital injections from taxpayers than it returned to them in dividends since 2007.
The $1.5 billion asset is a very poor investment for the taxpayer.
Keeping some of the farms as a land bank for treaty settlements has merit.
But the rest could be sold, gradually so as not to flood the market.
Using some of the proceeds for environmental projects such as Seymour proposes and some for investing in agricultural training and infrastructure, for example irrigation development, would be much better use of the money.
Concern for the environment is not the preserve of the political left.
There is a significant constituency of people who are green but not Green.
They want sound environmental policies without the radical left social and economic agenda. Some of those support National’s Blue Greens but some let their green leanings blind them to the red social and economic policies of the Greens.
Seymour is targeting them and in doing so attempting to grow the centre right share of the vote.
That’s clever politics.
He’s out-greening the Greens with environmental policy that makes economic sense.