Don Brash Writes
No. 92 - 12 October 2006
In my annual speech to the Orewa Rotary Club this year, I said that for the next three years National would continue to
emphasise the five key policy areas that we took to the last election. I also indicated that we would bring renewed
emphasis to two other policy areas - health and the environment.
So it was with great pleasure that I launched our 30-page environment policy paper, "A Bluegreen Vision for New
Zealand", at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary last Friday. The paper is the culmination of more than six months work by
Nick Smith and the National Party caucus and covers 17 key topics, from oceans to outdoor recreation to nature
The discussion paper is the first of a series of papers that the National Party caucus intend to develop over the next
two years. That this is the first paper to have been published demonstrates just what an important part the environment
plays in our vision for New Zealand's future.
While National did have an environment policy at the last election, it seems that policy was largely perceived as
focussing strongly on development at the expense of wider environmental objectives. In short, voters were suspicious
that National's desire to ensure a prosperous New Zealand would come at the expense of our environment.
The reality is that economic growth and a clean environment can, and must, go hand-in-hand. I think our discussion paper
clearly demonstrates National's determination to pursue policies that will ensure New Zealand's natural environment is
not sacrificed for the sake of a temporary boost in incomes.
For too long in this county the assumption has been that only parties to the left of the political spectrum care about
the environment. That is incorrect.
National, on behalf of all New Zealanders, is concerned about polluted air and water, about the erosion of our East
Coast hill country, about our shrinking forests and about the extinction facing much of our flora and fauna.
The initial response to the paper has been very encouraging, with a former Labour MP saying it was the most
comprehensive environment paper seen in New Zealand in ten years.
The environment reforms advanced in it are about a new framework based on best international practice but with a
distinctly New Zealand flavour. They recognise the importance of long-term stability and consistency in the development
of environmental policy.
The paper discusses ideas like tradable emission permits in respect of water, carbon dioxide emissions and nitrogen. It
proposes that hunters and fishers can and should be permitted to take more responsibility for managing their own
activities and the resources they use.
It suggests that we can get better value for money for the taxpayer and better outcomes for the environment if we place
more emphasis on backing groups like Landcare Trust, QEII Trust, Nga Whenua Rahui and the many private and community
conservation organisations that have grown up throughout New Zealand. To that end we are proposing a Sustainability
Investment Fund worth $1 billion over 10 years to help reduce pollution and help save our unique flora and fauna.
The paper also acknowledges the risk posed by the threat of climate change and proposes capping emissions from the
electricity sector - which is the fastest growing emitter - as a first step, along with incentives for forestry
Although there are still uncertainties around some of the science - and National will keep a close eye on the latest
findings so our policy response remains appropriate - the majority of scientists believe greenhouse gases are causing
climate change. National views the climate change proposals in the paper as an insurance policy to protect against that
I encourage you to download a copy of the paper from our website and have a look at the detail of our proposals. We are
seeking submissions on the paper and will welcome your feedback as we finalise our environment policy.
To download a copy of the paper, click here