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National the anti-environmental party

Written By: - Date published: 1:22 pm, September 28th, 2017 - 50 comments
Categories: climate change, Economy, Environment, farming, greens, national, water - Tags:

There’s been chatter on Twitter, and not so dissimilar talk around my office among ‘ordinary’ (probably on average right-leaning) people, about why National and the Greens can’t get together.  Why the Greens can’t ‘stick to the environment’ and get some wins there, as a compromise.

National’s urban supporters I’m sure would prefer a deal with the Greens vs a deal with NZ First (their rural ones might disagree), and National MPs always love a bit of Green-washing, and would be willing to throw the Greens a couple of bones.

The core hard reason it’s not going to happen is that the Greens’ members get to decide, and they wouldn’t go for it (as they believe in principles…), but there are obviously reasons behind that.

The focus is often on left-wing/right-wing, and the Greens insisting (rightly!) on social, as well as environmental principles.  There’s a lot to be said about how you can’t make good decisions about the environment when you’re on the breadline and your every thought is keeping (or trying to get) a roof over your head and food in your children’s bellies.  But that’s not what I want to focus on, as I think there’s a big bit that people are missing.

People can look to Germany and see a conservative party (fresh out of a coalition with a social democratic party), looking at forming a coalition with their Green party and a free-market liberal (ACT-esque) party.

But that’s a conservative party that has taken action on environmental issues.  Strong action on Climate Change.  Closing down their nuclear power plants because they’re not prepared to take the risks and waste.  Investing in renewables.

That’s a strong contrast with National.

In Aotearoa, National are the anti-environmental party.  Bizarrely the Greens have more in common with ACT than National.  ACT at least (like all of the top 8 parties other than National) rank Climate Change a 10/10 importance issue – National gave it an 8.5, as it needed ‘balancing against the economy’.  ACT don’t want to fund ever more irrigation to intensive farming & river pollution out of the public purse – only National does.  ACT – in their free-market way – believe in polluter pays.

National is the only party that doesn’t see the need for a carbon reduction law, carbon budgets, or a carbon commission.  They’re the ones who reduced what ‘swimmable’ meant to excuse their lack of action on our rivers, as our fresh-water fish become endangered.

Agriculture in the ETS?  A plastic bag levy?  From big to small, National don’t back it.

For National business comes first, second and third.  Their Conservation Minister (Maggie Barry), regularly says they’ll take action on the environment when the economy allows – ignoring that there is no economy without an environment.

So forget left-right.  On the environment – anti-environment spectrum the Greens & National are at opposite ends – that’s probably the biggest reason (of many) that there’s no chance of the 2 negotiating anything.


* I can’t even find a picture with Shaw & English both in it that’s how much they have in common.

50 comments on “National the anti-environmental party”

  1. weka 1

    Blood good post. That’s a great explanation to push back against the attempted neoliberalisation of the Greens that’s going on.

    • Once was Tim 1.1

      which is exactly what it is! except that after 30 plus years of neoliberalism, half of them probably don’t even know they’re neoliberals. First an ideology, then a religion, then a cult, then a bloody Empire. It transcends all other ideologies and religions – it comes first in their minds. Even in David Lange’s autoB, he recognised it as being a religion amongst his peers.

  2. Andrew 2

    “They’re the ones who reduced what ‘swimmable’ meant to excuse their lack of action on our rivers”

    That is complete ill informed rubbish.

    The previous Labour/Green govt had the National Bottom Line at 1000 E coli per 100 mL annual median for a Grade C water body. Grade A was an annual median of 260 E coli per 100 mL at a 95% confidence level. Grade B was >260 and ≤540 annual median of 260 E coli per 100 mL at a 95% confidence level.

    National have more than halved the amount of allowable E coli by having an annual median of 130 E coli per 100 mL for all grades of rivers and made the confidence levels much stricter. The maximum allowable E coli level has been set at 540, for A,B and C grade water bodies, but only 5, 10, and 20% of the time. But the 95% confidence level means that in a time of flood the water body can, and most likely will have more than 540 or 260, but daily monitoring must be put in place until it is back under the 130 mark again.

    Now if you get a 260 rating you have to monitor daily, and bring it back down to 130. That’s new. Also, you couldn’t even measure quality before National put the apparatus in to do so.

    • That is complete ill informed rubbish.

      No, that’s actually true:

      “It’s like saying ‘OK, a lot of people are exceeding the 50 km/h speed limit in town so, in 20 years’ time, we’re going to have 90 percent of the people obeying the rules – but we’re going to shift the speed limit to 100km/h'” – Mike Joy

      Everything that you spouted was just a regurgitation of National’s lies.

      • tracey 2.1.1

        From your link

        “Environment Minister Nick Smith said the cost of the proposal to the government, farmers and councils was estimated to be $2 billion over the next 23 years.”

        Is this in relation to the recent article that ratepayers, taxpayers and iwi are outpacing farmers 94 to 1 in financial contributions?

    • lprent 2.2

      So you are picking ONE factor out of the 50 or so factors that waterways are routinely measured for? Why is that? Avoidance?

      If you read any criticism of the piss-poor standards that National brought in, e-coli was (from memory) about the only one that actually did improve – probably because the numerically retarded liar Nick Smith wanted one to go in the headlines.

      In other words you picked the one specially made for the stupid PR spinnners (which is what you look like – just another professional liar).

      So what happened to the standards for nitrate levels, various species of paramecium, phosphate levels, water volumes, native fish, and a host of other factors for measuring the actual health of waterways?

      Do you really think that we can’t read and can’t recognize a idiot lying by omission, you contemptible spinner?

      (and before you start whining about politeness – read the policy about “robust debate”)

      • Andrew 2.2.1

        edited to remove swearing as lprent has done the same after he called me a fuckwit.

        If you cant have a discussion without resorting to attacks and swearing then that says more about you than I.

        In case you want to be educated, then read the actual amendments:

        http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Fresh%20water/nps-freshwater-ameneded-2017_0.pdf

        http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/npsfm-showing-changes.pdf

        The link that Draco pasted is also untrue from My Joy.

        “He said there was now a one in 20 chance of getting campylobacter swimming in an river rated “excellent””

        That is also not true. A swimming river rated as “excellent”, or an A grade river, “if in flood” at the “maximum allowable limit” of 540, you would have a 1 in 20 in 20 chance. That is, in 20 groups, then 1 in one of those 20 may get sick.

        Baring in mind that the river would have to be in flood and at the upper levels of where even the previous ‘wadable’ standard was set.

        “Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague agreed, saying all the government had done was essentially change the definition of swimmability, from what was currently defined as wadeability.”

        That is also untrue. the wadeable standard was an annual median of 260, the new swimmable standard is 130 with tighter confidence levels.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1

          One Get Out of jail Free card:

          Policy CA3
          By every regional council ensuring that freshwater objectives for the compulsory values are set at or above the national bottom lines for all freshwater management units, unless the existing freshwater quality of the freshwater management unit is already below the national bottom line for an attribute or attributes and the regional council considers it appropriate to set the freshwater objective below the national bottom line for an attribute or attributes because:
          a) the existing freshwater quality is caused by naturally occurring processes; or
          b) any of the existing significant infrastructure (that was operational on 1 August 2014) listed in Appendix 3 contributes to the existing freshwater quality; and
          i) it is necessary to realise the benefits provided by the listed infrastructure; and
          ii) it applies only to the waterbody, water bodies or any part of a waterbody, where the listed infrastructure contributes to the existing water quality.

          Pretty sure the farmers and other polluting businesses were rapped with that.

        • weka 2.2.1.2

          from a green politics perspective the argument you are making is a nonsense. Water should be drinkable as minimum standard. That’s because it’s so hard to clean up water once polluted, and because all of life depends on clean water. Fresh water scientists say that the standard needs to be better than drinkable for humans, because fresh water ecologies need cleaner water than even that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the implications of that in a finite set of islands. Or do you think eventually we will buy our water from overseas?

          Arguing about the numbers for wadeable is akin to arguing how to set the standards for the economy for acceptable numbers of kids to die of the diseases of poverty, or how many young men are acceptable to kill themselves, or how many people it’s ok to economically coerce into homelessness or how many lives its ok to ruin by running a low wage economy.

          I would call it sociopathic because at its basis is the normalising of violence against nature and people. It’s so normalised that you don’t even consider the implications of wadable any more.

          Hence you are aligned with the anti-environmentalists.

          • Andrew 2.2.1.2.1

            “Arguing about the numbers for wadeable is akin to arguing how to set the standards for the economy for acceptable numbers of kids to die of the diseases of poverty”

            Well let’s just take a step back for a moment. The argument was that National have relaxed the standard that Labour set. I am arguing that they have not, and in fact have strengthened it considerably.

            Water body degradation in NZ has been happening for decades. Only in the last decade have we really started to take it seriously and enact measures to monitor and improve our water quality.

            The previous “wadable” standard was a start, albeit a cop out as far as i am concerned, considering the Labour govt that was supported buy the Greens drafted it. This goes further.

            The end game should be to make “most” river water drinkable, but lets get serious here. That ain’t going to happen over night, it will happen in incremental steps, and this is one of those steps.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.2.1.1

              I am arguing that they have not, and in fact have strengthened it considerably.

              You still haven’t provided any evidence of that.

              The previous “wadable” standard was a start, albeit a cop out as far as i am concerned, considering the Labour govt that was supported buy the Greens drafted it.

              Except that the wade-able standard was National’s. The Greens said it wasn’t good enough.

              I’m really not sure if you’re spinning or if you actually believe the BS you’re spouting.

              • Andrew

                Sorry i was incorrect about the wadable document. What i should have said is that the safe cut off level of 540 E Coli, used in the wadable water statement was set by Labour and the Greens.

            • Drowsy M. Kram 2.2.1.2.1.2

              Get serious, it ain’t going to happen at all, because – (do nothing) National.

            • weka 2.2.1.2.1.3

              “The end game should be to make “most” river water drinkable, but lets get serious here. That ain’t going to happen over night, it will happen in incremental steps, and this is one of those steps.”

              I disagree. We should be making water better than drinkable now. That means not saying that we can try and clean up water for the next generation, but that we stop polluting now. I know rivers that are still drinkable and don’t have adequate protection.

              National have no intention of making water drinkable and if you use their incremental process you are condemning NZ to a very long term pollution that will be much harder to clean up.

          • Roy 2.2.1.2.2

            Thanks Weka, for making the point about drinkable. Drinkable (for an adult human) is about a quarter of the cleanliness required for native fish species and other ecosystems to survive. We need nothing less than pristine, and if that is “economically unviable”, then the economy is the one that’s unviable.

            Water is a necessity, as is a healthy enviro. Both should be paramount if we’re to survive.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.3

          That is also not true. A swimming river rated as “excellent”, or an A grade river, “if in flood” at the “maximum allowable limit” of 540, you would have a 1 in 20 in 20 chance. That is, in 20 groups, then 1 in one of those 20 may get sick.

          You should probably read your own links:

          % exceedances over 540 cfu/100 mL: <5%
          % exceedences over 260 cfu/100 mL: <20%
          Median concentration (cfu/100 mL): ≤130
          95th percentile of E. coli/100 mL: ≤540
          Description of risk of Campylobacter infection (based on E. coli indicator): For at least half the time, the estimated risk is <1 in 1000 (0.1% risk)
          The predicted average infection risk is 1%*

          * The predicted average infection risk is the overall average infection to swimmers based on a random exposure on a random day, ignoring any possibility of not swimming during high flows or when a surveillance advisory is in place (assuming that the E. coli concentration follows a lognormal distribution). Actual risk will generally be less if a person does not swim during high flows.

          It’s supposed to be less but it’s allowed to go over 540 5% of the time.

          • Andrew 2.2.1.3.1

            At 130 the risk is about 1 in a 1000. At 540 the risk of getting sick is one in 20. But that one in 20 is at the 95 per cent confidence level. Even if you put 20 people in water and it has a 540 E.coli level it’s not saying on average one person gets sick out of 20. It’s saying one in 20 of 20 groups will have one in 20 get sick.

            • McFlock 2.2.1.3.1.1

              No, it’s saying that 19 out of 20 groups on average will have 1 person ill.

              Or any particular group of twenty people should expect somewhere between 0 and 5 cases (inclusive, assuming a 0.05 proportion CI of say 0.001-0.25 where 0.05 is one person and you can’t have fractions of people), but say ten groups having no cases or one group having all 20 people get sick would be statistically significant variations from the risk assessment.

        • lprent 2.2.1.4

          Don’t be a ignorant and particularly stupid dipshit. Read the fucking documents rather than just the selected bits that are on your crib sheet. I’m not sur etat you even understand those.

          Perhaps you should spend some time reading some texts on factors that actually affect water quality over decades. They are not :-
          “The categories are based on water quality in terms of the two human health attributes, E. coli and cyanobacteria – planktonic.”
          Both are primarily symptoms of the bad water health rather than being a cause. Making them better doesn’t mean that the water is better. It just means that you wind up with a known chance of being sick across a wider range of waterways and lakes.

          No change in phosphates or nitrates – and our existing standards were already ridiculously loose, despite that that being a primary factor driving plant and algae growth and choking the waterways. Both are far more important in the future viability of waterways than e-coli or cynabacteria. The only thing that this pile of crap standard says is that councils should put a level in their plans.

          No changes in dissolved oxygen despite declaring that this was essential for non-anaerobic animal life. Nothing for the base of the ecosystems in waterways and lakes like looking at phytoplankton. Nothing for dealing with stratified nitrogen in the lakes with all of the nasty effects that that has on the vertical ecosystems.

          For that matter, absolutely nothing on heavy metals like cadmium (leached off super-phosphate), iron levels, suspended silt levels, and a multitude of other factors that come directly from humans dumping nasty shit into water. Things that can kill whole ecosystems and cause water to get toxic.

          In essence, the changes that they made could equally well apply to a dead and lifeless waterway or lake because they don’t deal with ANY of the causes of deteriorating waterways – mostly from leachates and silting from farming. They just pick a single species e-coli and a phyla as indicator species, and then totally ignore every significiant factor about maintaining existing water quality.

          All that they have tried to do is to stop animals shitting in rivers directly or indirectly, which is just a small part of the issues. Moreover, they haven’t particularly set a high standard even on that because what they have effectively done is said that existing waterways that are cleaner than that appalling standard aren’t required to maintain their existing water quality in even those factors. Probably the only reason that they did that was because under the previous regional plans from a decade ago, farmers were required to try to stop their animals doing that. So some dipshit PR person in Nick Smiths office saw an opportunity to get a cheap headline while doing nothing else.

          To be precise, you could probably get the same effects that they are say tat they are after in this standard by simply dropping cyanide to kill everything in the water and it would pass their measurable standards. It doesn’t mean that the water will be useful. Now if you can show me where *that* couldn’t happen under these standards and not violate anything in them then I might actually start listening to you.

          But in my opinion you are simply just a lying simpleton because it is clear that all you are doing is mindlessly quoting from a document without any actual understanding of what you are describing and what it means. Quoting numbers without understanding them makes you look like Nick Smith – a idiot parrot or PR fool.

          If you want any level of respect than engage with the issue with some intelligence. We really don’t need you picking out the small shifts from 8 years of discussion while ignoring that this document does absolutely nothing to improve water quality. All it does is provide an explicit license to pollute further.

    • lprent 2.3

      Now if you get a 260 rating you have to monitor daily, and bring it back down to 130. That’s new. Also, you couldn’t even measure quality before National put the apparatus in to do so.

      What complete billshit. The regional councils had measuring equipment paid for by ratepayers for decades. Where do you think that the measurements came from?

      Furthermore, the actual amount of measurement stations has actually decreased over the last 9 years. Certainly this government hasn’t put any more money into it. Instead they have been cutting funds to organisations like DOC, universities, and many others who used to do far more of it than they do now.

      In essence, Nick Smith waving his magic tongue over something doesn’t make anything actually happen. All it means is that there are more stupid liars like you trying to pretend that dead water is a functioning ecosystem.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    This attack is a wifebeater.

    On the far right this will be used to make claims about Green impracticality after they reject any suggestion of going with the Gnats.

    It’s classical Gnat – having neither a credible record nor policies their only strategy is spurious attacks.

  4. Sparky 4

    In my opinion neither National or for that matter Labour have had great environmental policies. The filthy mess that is our rivers go back further than nine years. The Greens are ones with a great policy in this regard. If they had steered clear of the “glass of rat poison” talk about capital gains tax they probably would have done better come the election. Anyway lets hope they can at least make some inroads and we can have better environmental policies that are kinder to our pretty little country.

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    NO

  6. tracey 6

    Well said.

  7. Cinny 7

    nat’s have been and still are useless on the environment.

    You would think in this day and age preference would be put on electric trains.. but nooooo Diesel all the way for national even if it costs more. How about the 2nd hand diesel loco’s brought in which were full of asbestos and then the slave labour they utilized to remove it. That was a few years back. More recently nats have decided to update kiwirails electric locos with diesel, and have been less than transparent about the whole situation.

  8. Awesome post thank you.

  9. Our ol’ pal Big Bruv over on Kiwiblog has it clear in his mind:

    “My goodness are we that desperate?
    If the Nat’s ever went into government with the stinking Greens then it is all over. We should just shut up shop, change our flag to red with a hammer and sickle and be done with it.
    I know the Nat’s are really Labour lite but getting into bed with the stinking Greens is taking things way too far.”

    🙂

  10. Robert Guyton 10

    Over on Kiwiblog, Farrar asks:
    “What could the Greens get if they went with National not Winston?”
    My immediate thought was, “Shat upon?”

  11. Robert Guyton 11

    Nick R (same site) makes sense:
    “Here’s what puzzles me. Ever since the election, every political commentator on the right including DPF has been bemoaning the Greens’ refusal to do business with National. Despite knowing full well what the obstacles are and what would happen to the Green Party if they did. Now granted, nobody in National gives a fart for the electoral prospects of the Greens. If the Greens were to offer a confidence and supply agreement for 3 years, have their caucus and membership torn apart in the inevitable battle that followed and then follow the Maori Party, United Future and ACT into the Graveyard of National’s Support Parties, that would in many ways be perfect. Three more years of Government without Winston AND the destruction of a left wing opposition party – nice one!

    But assuming – just for the sake of argument – that this poison chalice is somehow not attractive to the Green Party – why doesn’t National set up its own astroturfed centrist blue-green party that can advocate on the environment without the hard left social justice agenda? National has lots of money, and if it reckons there is a constituency that would vote for such a party, why not start one instead of trying to persuade the Greens to prop it up?”

  12. Robert Guyton 12

    SPC says:

    “The Greens letting NZ First hold all the cards strengthens the NZ First negotiating position with National.

    For them National remaining in power (as they have since 2008) is the worst of options but a coalition with NZ First is the fourth best option – behind a Labour-Green government, a Labour-NZ First-Green coalition and a Labour-NZ First coalition backed by Greens.

    They do not want National to be in a position to use them as a means to reduce concessions to NZ First.

    1. National may concede the field to Labour because of this.
    2. National becomes desperate for a deal with Greens as an alternative. And only if they are desperate would they do a deal Greens would consider.

    Greens will play a waiting game. It’s the smart move.”

  13. FRJon 13

    Wish I could “like” this post many times over… Definitely need to bookmark it!

  14. McFlock 14

    edit: bugger missed reply

    ah – comment got deleted

  15. Adrian 15

    Don’t let the Germans fool you, they may have closed their nuclear stations but they now get their replacement power from just over the border in France from French nuclear stations.
    It’s ” green ” washing on a vast scale.

  16. Pat 16

    National and their mouthpieces have no intention nor desire to form a coalition with the Greens…all this public kite flying has one purpose and one purpose only….split the Greens…..or divide and rule if you prefer.

  17. The following were the indicators used in the original Natural Resoruces Regional Plan of Environment Canterbury prior to the Commissioners arriving. It has since been superceded by the Land and Water Regional Plan. I took this from an assignment I did several years ago.

    Ecological Health Ecological health measures a water way health based on the impacts of human activities and natural changes to its system (Glennie J., pers comm.). It uses such indicators as the Quantitative Macroinvertebrate Community Index (Q.M.C.I.), which scales the sensitivity of taxa to pollutants.

    Nutrient Indicators Macrophytes and periphyton are key microbiological organisms which form mats of weed in rivers and can impede water flow, changing the characteristics of the aquatic life, the water way as a fishery and its aesthetic values. These require high nutrient input, which is readily available on dairy farms through cattle faeces and urine being discharged into unprotected water ways, but also from fertilizer application on land (Environment Canterbury, 2011, pp 32-34).

    Siltation Siltation is a major problem in spring fed water ways, which are numerous in Canterbury. Their margins get degraded by uncontrolled cattle herds, trampling the banks, which are normally soft sediment, easily broken up by hooves and dissolved in flowing water (Environment Canterbury, 2011 pp 32-34).

    Micrbiological organisms These are faecal organisms from dairy animals, that have found their way into water ways (Glennie J., pers comm.). Concentrations of these organisms affect the quality of water involuntarily ingested during recreation, and also the health of livestock that may come in contact with the water.

    Toxic algal growth This particularly relates to cyanobacteria, which has been linked to dog deaths. This is most prevalent during summer when temperatures are warmer and natural flows are lower, allowing sunlight to warm the water and encourage algal growth (Environment Canterbury, 2011, pp 32-34). The growth can be exacerbated by water having phosphate and nitrogen as these are necessary for photosynthesis

    Fisheries Fishing is a popular recreational past time in Canterbury where numerous fresh fishing opportunities afford themselves (Environment Canterbury, 2011, pp 32-34). Fisheries can suffer from degraded water ways if the insect life that they feed on, is depleted. If siltation is occurring it can damage spawning beds and give rise

  18. infused 18

    Climate change isn’t an issue for NZ. It will kill NZ (taxing and all the bullshit that goes with it).

    We are a small emitter. Not per capita, because that’s retarded in this context.

    • Incognito 18.1

      What are you on about? NZ is not a country on Planet Key but on Planet Earth. Thus climate change is an issue for NZ.

      It is misleading to say that we are “a small emitter” because the relevant point is that we are a contributor. You make it sound like one rain drop or one snow flake is irrelevant and negligible in the greater scheme of things but over time and added together they form lakes, rivers, glaciers and avalanches.

    • dv 18.2

      Freeload Inny

      And what will happen to our trade when the big emitters buy in and we are not doing our bit

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