Don’t trade the environment for short term jobs

Published: Mon 2 Mar 2009 09:53 AM
Environment And Conservation Organisations Of NZ Inc.
Wellington – Tuesday 1 March 2009
Don’t trade the environment for short term jobs
The Government should reject proposals from the Job Summit to trade environmental quality for elusory short term gains the Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO) said today.
ECO Spokesperson, Barry Weeber, said the proposals to put a moratorium on improvements of water and air quality should be rejected because of human and environmental health will be harmed.
Mr Weeber said there are a range of environmental initiatives that could create additional jobs including an expansion of the retrofitting existing houses to make them warmer, drier, healthier and with a smaller energy demand.
“There are other activities that provide jobs and improve the environment, often at lower cost than capital intensive infrastructure projects such as road building.
“The proposal to spend $60 million in promoting tourists will be undermined by any moves to downgrade environmental protection.”
Mr Weeber said we want tourists to come here but the Job Summit is saying they shouldn’t drink the water or breathe the air. “About 1100 people die prematurely annually in urban areas because of poor air quality.”
Mr Weeber said recent monitoring by local councils and the Ministry for the Environment showed that 58 per cent of New Zealand’s monitored airsheds failed the national standard for lung damaging particulates (toxic PM10).
“The latest Ministry of Health monitoring of water quality indicated that 20 percent of New Zealanders were at risk from supplied water.
Mr Weeber noted that according to a 2009 World Bank survey New Zealand was the second easiest country in which to do business after Singapore.
“New Zealand should be investing in greening the economy to provide jobs and to improve environment.
1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 64 groups with a concern for the environment.
2. Among the proposals that would undermine environmental protection and quality of the environment are:
•9. Reduce regulatory compliance costs and impediments: Adopt a permissive approach to increase the range of permitted activities in e.g. building and housing, food safety. Enable local government to determine appropriate level of consultation. Seek a moratorium on drinking water and air quality standards. Improve practice in council processing of regulatory consents.
•10. Big projects fast track: Establish a taskforce(s) to report directly to a relevant minister to anticipate and actively manage approval and regulatory processes for major and/or complex processes.
•11. Rule-making freeze: Cabinet directive issued to government agencies/regulators to stop all rule and regulation making or extension, unless specifically approved by the minister. Reduce all enforcement activity to focus on minimum acceptable standards (rather than ‘nice to haves') and the overall immediate interest for New Zealand.
3. One review estimates that “for every 1,000 houses retrofitted a total of 151 full-time equivalent jobs would be required for delivery solely of on-site retrofitting services; a total of 392 full-time equivalent jobs would be required to provide the products and services involved in the renovation activity.” Beacon Pathway Consortium at There are currently about 860,000 houses in New Zealand which have no insulation, or are under insulated and 235,000 of these homes are occupied by people on low incomes (Minister of Energy, 2009).
4. According to the Ministry for the Environment’s latest review of air quality: “Poor outdoor air quality is a significant issue in some locations in New Zealand. About two-thirds of New Zealanders live in areas that can experience air pollution. Each year, about 1100 people die prematurely from air pollution in urban areas. Most poor air quality in New Zealand is caused by high winter levels of particulate matter (known as PM10) from wood and coal used for home heating. Auckland, where about a third of New Zealand’s population lives, also experiences high levels of PM10 from road transport.”
5. The latest review of drinking water standards for the Ministry of Health found that: “Approximately 811,000 (20%) of New Zealanders were supplied with drinking-water that either failed to comply bacteriologically with the criteria of the dirking water standard New Zealand (DWSNZ) or for which there are no data because they were self-supplied.” Annual Review of Drinking-water Quality in New Zealand 2006/07 February 2009
6. A review in 2006 for the Ministry of Health noted “There is ample evidence of waterborne disease outbreaks in New Zealand to indicate a significant risk of contracting gastro-intestinal disease (GID) from drinking-water that is untreated or inadequately treated.” And further estimated that “Based on currently available data, two separate estimates of the burden of endemic drinking-waterborne gastro-intestinal disease are ca. 18,000 and 34,000 cases per annum. Preliminary results from work in progress suggest that these are underestimates.” See Environmental Science and Research Ltd. 2007. Estimation of the Burden of Water-borne Disease in New Zealand - Preliminary Report. Wellington: Environmental Science and Research Ltd. Found at
7. World Bank 2009. Doing Business. “Doing Business 2009 is the sixth in a series of annual reports investigating the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 181 economies—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—and over time. Regulations affecting 10 stages of the life of a business are measured: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business. Data in Doing Business 2009 are current as of June 1, 2008.”

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