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Green Party: COVID-19 recovery and investment in people and nature

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, April 27th, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: covid-19, economy, Environment, greens, jobs - Tags:

Green Party press release from greens.org.nz
______________________________________________________________________________

As Aotearoa starts focusing on the economic recovery from COVID-19 the Green Party is calling for an economic stimulus package fit for the 21st century that puts people, climate, and nature first with significant investment in nature based jobs.

“An economic response fit for the long term challenges we face as a nation means investing in nature as Aotearoa’s essential infrastructure”, said Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson.

“This will make sure generations now and in the future have healthy streams and rivers. It ensures native birds and wildlife are thriving, and wetlands and bush are regenerated.

The focus on nature based jobs follows the Green Party’s proposal last week for a record investment in rapid electric trains to transform travel between towns and cities across the country.

“We’re proposing a $1 billion package over three years to rapidly scale up investment in people and nature. The proposed package will support local communities, iwi, businesses, NGOs, councils and DOC to employ thousands of people across New Zealand to restore and look after our natural landscapes, native bush, birds, waterways and coast.”

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the package draws on some great ideas coming from councils, iwi and environmental organisations over the last few weeks for kick starting the economic recovery with jobs that give nature a much needed helping hand.

“Nature based jobs can be started relatively quickly and make use of skilled people who have lost jobs in regions such as Queenstown. An investment of this scale would see a major increase in efforts to turn around water pollution through fencing and planting beside streams, restoring wetlands, and coastal margins; tackling wilding conifers and other plant and weed pests.

“This package would see more native plant nurseries creating jobs growing seedlings and more work with farmers restoring and looking after rivers, estuaries and wetlands. It would see more large scale pest and weed control from wallabies to wildings to reduce their range and help restore the dawn chorus around Aotearoa.

“Investing in nature-based jobs can see meaningful jobs created more quickly than spending on big infrastructure like new motorways. Most of the funding will go directly to employing people – the tools needed for wetland restoration such as spades and seedlings are far cheaper than big excavators and asphalt.

“This investment creates thriving native forests and wetlands, assets that last centuries and suck carbon out of the atmosphere. It will avoid future pest control costs, better buffer coastal areas from sea level rise and provide corridors for birds to come back to neighbourhoods.

“These work opportunities are well suited to those who have worked outdoors such as tourist guides currently out of work, have people and project management skills or who want to quickly retrain and get their hands dirty helping nature.”

Summary of the proposed package:

  • $1 billion invested in nature-based jobs over 3 years.
  • Initial estimates suggest it would create 6000-7000 jobs (FTEs) directly with many more through flow on support to local suppliers and contractors.
  • Funding would be made available to support iwi, councils, NGOs, businesses wanting to undertake shovel ready nature restoration or predator free projects.
  • Funding would be divvied up across regions based on the level of impact from COVID and the need to restore nature so those areas with more people out of paid work would get more support.
  • Training hubs would be established in regions to quickly retrain people as needed.

More information:

  • $100 million would be available through a 50% wage subsidy per employee for councils, community organisations, iwi and government agencies to employ people in a revamped Taskforce Green scheme on projects which meet scheme criteria.
  • Projects would provide a boost for fencing, pest control, planting and weed control contractors; enabling them to employ more staff and expand their businesses; and allow new businesses to establish. Many skilled people will be without jobs as a result of business disruption associated with COVID 19. The proposed package creates funding and opportunities.
  • Organisations such as iwi and NGOs could apply to be involved and keep their staffing and structures in place while working alongside DOC or councils to deliver the work; such as trapping pests and looking after kiwi.
  • Iwi could seek funding to support restoration projects that they’ve already planned and hit go with the funding now available.
  • Predator Free 2050 Ltd could be expanded to more regions and rapidly scaled up in others to supercharge landscape scale predator control and backyard and community trapping efforts to bring birdlife back to towns, cities and farms.
  • Planned work to upgrade tracks could get underway quicker, especially in areas close to cities and towns so more New Zealanders can get out into nature close to home and maybe even see a real kiwi.
  • As a lot of this work is outdoors where physical distancing is easier, more people could stay employed with the appropriate safety gear and guidelines while we move between different COVID-19 alert levels.
______________________________________________________________________________

This is indeed an unprecedented moment. What we do with it will determine the quality of life for billions of people – not just for the next few months or years, but for the generations to come.

16 comments on “Green Party: COVID-19 recovery and investment in people and nature ”

  1. barry 1

    Fully agree.

    We need a long term approach to keeping people employed in the regions. It will also maintain a population to help pick fruit and do other seasonal work (so long as they pay enough to make it worthwhile).

    There is certainly a huge backlog of environmental tasks to do that have been neglected due to DOC's focus on making money.

    • weka 1.1

      That's a good point about seasonal work. Lots of people I've known over the years choose to do seasonal work because they want that lifestyle. They want to work half the year and then have the other half off to play, and they're often highly mobile around that.

      The trick is going to be creating conditions so that those who are not mobile eg families, can stay in one place and make a decent living. That was hard for a lot of people before, now is a good time to change that. Put people in the centre and design new systems out from what they and their communities need. Economics should serve the people not use them.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.1.1

        There needs to be major investment in family friendly housing in those regions formally reliant on overseas swish -bangers to pick the fruit.

        It will not be acceptable to have families forced into 'green' work zones if there is insufficient accommodation.

        Also, I'd personally like to see the NZ Standard for the Management of Agrichemicals become an enforceable, a truly enforceable rule book. Talking with horticultural workers…there are some growers who give not a shit if their workers are exposed to chemical nasties. They are going to bugger off back to Germany or Vanuatu…who monitors any adverse effects?

        I am hoping that Kiwis obliged to do this work will be proactive and demand safe working environment. If growers are also obliged to hire Kiwis, they might be less inclined to treat workers like disposable commodities.

        Also, could the Greens please dig up and dust off the Agrichemical Trespass Bill?

        Nanaia did pull it out as a private members Bill back in 2008(?) but rumour had it the industry managed to quash it.

        Now is the hour.😉

        • gsays 1.1.1.1

          One way to deal with both concerns; how to have horticultural work pay enough to support a family and dealing with chemicals, is Organic Aotearoa by 2025.

          Soil health at the heart of all decisions.

          It leverages off our 'green' image while at the same time helping restore the whenua to it past prime.

        • weka 1.1.1.2

          Ironically covid might be solving the housing crisis as well. If we are smart about it.

  2. greywarshark 2

    Extensive post – very informative and practical. Just what NZ needs. It must be done says this concerned citizen – concerned with people, stability, basic standards for all etc. Not with feeding money into corporations that play with us like coloured tokens on a Monopoly Board. Go to the grassroots, and go the family farmers, and the regions with their small but very important projects, if they can be seen to be effective and pay off within a few years. Grander ones can bloody well wait.

  3. Maurice 3

    Tax Farmers and other rich people to pay for this!

    Capital Gains Tax and Wealth taxes will generate billions after the economy begins recovery and present depressed valuations begin climbing again.

    • weka 3.1

      lots of farmers who aren't particularly rich, so I would see it more being about taxing the wealthy and the polluters/extractors.

    • bwaghorn 3.2

      It might surprise you to know farmers actually pay tax .

      I know who woulda thunk it!!!

      • Sacha 3.2.1

        Also up to their ears in debt pushed by banksters.

        • bwaghorn 3.2.1.1

          The one thing that needs fixing is that there is no incentive to pay debt . As debt reduction is taxed yet paying interest isn't.

          Seems rigged to me .

    • Nic the NZer 3.3

      The ideal spending strategy for the government is to balance spending (across the whole economy) against capacity of the economy to produce (largely available workers). Since the country is facing considerable unemployment, taxation is not needed at this time to implement this program. If the Green party gets it into a government budget the program will be funded.

    • greywarshark 3.4

      Maurice at 3 Wants to go back to BAU – I think it's situation hopeless getting people to see we were bad before so don't want to continue that.

      Uncertain and afraid
      As the clever hopes expire
      Of a low dishonest decade:
      Waves of anger and fear
      Circulate over the bright
      And darkened lands of the earth,
      Obsessing our private lives;…

      Faces along the bar
      Cling to their average day:
      The lights must never go out,
      The music must always play,
      All the conventions conspire
      To make this fort assume
      The furniture of home;
      Lest we should see where we are,
      Lost in a haunted wood,
      Children afraid of the night
      Who have never been happy or good.

      W.H. Auden RIP
      http://www.poemdujour.com/Sept1.1939.html

  4. Sacha 4

    Crucial point about our public investment options:

    Investing in nature-based jobs can see meaningful jobs created more quickly than spending on big infrastructure like new motorways. Most of the funding will go directly to employing people – the tools needed for wetland restoration such as spades and seedlings are far cheaper than big excavators and asphalt.

    The group who lose out by NZ not prioritising road-building projects are financiers.

  5. bill 5

    Still wanting to order and manage nature then? And still throwing 'administration costs' money at top/down organisations? And still peddling the lie about decarbonisation?

    Nature does just fine when left the fuck alone. Hierarchical workplaces are sooo yesteryear (and fucking suck) – as does clearing gorse and tree planting in the cold and wet btw.

    Maybe we should all be paid to walk outside and clap all the good work of be-suited virtue signalers? Actually. I'll do it for free, but it will be a slow clap.

    We can get things going again, create jobs, AND decarbonise. = business as usual b.s.

    • common sense 5.1

      Bill , funny,accurate

      Greens are detached and delusional.. there will be no green party after this election..

      I love the environment , I love nature and do my best to do my part but ideas like this is why everyone is over the greens. That was one of the lamest pitches ive ever seen.

      We need a new green party , one that is realistic not full of great ideas and bullshit.

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