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Smith knocks last government’s slogans as he rationalises environment programme

Published 12 March 2009

Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday 5 programmes led by the Ministry for the Environment would be discontinued or scaled back to ensure the Government could afford to meet its priorities for the environment.


"The previous Labour Government left a $26 million hole in the budget for the Ministry for the Environment. That meant a number of important work programmes like waste & climate change would be unfunded from 1 July this year.


"This government has been forced to take a close look at all the work the ministry is leading and ensure it makes a real difference to our environment. Work on climate change, freshwater management, biodiversity, waste management & air quality are the Government’s priorities.


"The Government also wants to ensure that reform of the Resource Management Act and a redesign & implementation of an emissions trading scheme are a priority for the ministry.


"Programmes instigated by the previous government did little. The carbon-neutral public service was just a feel-good slogan cooked up by the previous government. Its only achievement was to cost this country millions of dollars. Ironically, since the programme was launched by the previous government, emissions from the Ministry for the Environment increased from 656 tonnes in 2005-06 to 766 tonnes in 2007-08.


"As for the Govt3 programme, I have heard of public servants going to training sessions to learn how to best separate their recycling. This government expects public servants to use their judgment on what is best for the environment. Caring for the environment should be business as usual.


"The work the Bioethics Council was doing was somewhat duplicated by other government committees. This included the Ministry of Health’s national advisory committee and advisory committee on assisted reproductive technology, and the Environmental Risk Management Authority & its Maori advisory committee, Nga Kaihautu Tikanga Taiao. It makes no sense for multiple government agencies to do essentially the same work.


"With regards to the recycling in public places initiative, this was a 3-year programme that will now end a year earlier, on 30 June this year. Public place recycling will continue, with the intention it will be funded from the waste levy under the Waste Minimisation Act that comes into effect from 1 July.


"The household sustainability programme will be integrated with the sustainable business development programme. The focus will be on making goods that are better for the environment.


"This Government’s priority is to invest in frontline services that really matter for New Zealanders, not expensive slogans."


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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