Thursday, August 28, 2014

Labour on the environment

Labour released its environment policy today. While supposedly predicated on the idea of "no healthy economy without a healthy environment", its... weak. On the core issue of the RMA, they reject National's latest round of gutting, but basically accept all the rest. Oh, they'll establish a panel to consider the effects of the cumulative amendments to the Act, but that's a rather weak action, and there's no commitment to actually do anything to restore environmental standards, remove call-in powers, or restore community decision-making. And a lot of their proposed actions basically boil down to "we'll manage it better" - not appealing when what is needed is actual change.

They promise more National Policy Statements to provide guidance to local authorities on biodiversity, estuaries, and onshore gas exploration - but won't say what will be in them. They do make specific commitments around the NPS for freshwater, promising that lakes and rivers will be "swimmable, fishable and suitable for food gathering" and that they will set timelines for cleanup.

On dirty dairying, they're promising improvements to farm practices and a resource rental for irrigation water. But they won't phase out irrigation subsidies, which fund further pollution of our rivers.

On offshore drilling, they won't ban deepwater exploration - the furtherest they'll go is requiring "international best practice" (you know, the same as led to this). Oh, and they'll "reflect" on the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report on onshore drilling. Which is politician for "not going to do anything".

Overall, there's some promising stuff about freshwater and dirty dairying, but the rest of the document is a commitment to National's status quo. If you want stronger environmentla protections, you need to vote for a party which actually promises them.