Yesterday I attended the Save Our Water rally in Christchurch. It was fantastic to see so many people out braving the southerly wind to take a stand for our fresh water. The atmosphere was positive and friendly, so why did I feel slightly uncomfortable? When the left wing anti-trade and #ChangeTheGovernment rhetoric started up I knew why.
I don’t have anything against left-wingers, they are welcome to their ideas and play a valuable part in the debate. My point is simply that good environmental management needs to transcend this partisan political divide and be a permanent feature of government, regardless of its hue. Only TOP can deliver on that goal.
The importance of the environment
TOP’s environmental policy clearly shows improving the environment doesn’t have to come at the expense of the economy; we can improve both at the same time. Our #1 export now is tourism, and half of our tourists come here for our clean, green, natural experience. In addition, some of our most profitable dairy farmers are actually also our cleanest. We don’t have to give anything up to look after the environment, in fact it could make us richer overall.
So why are the National Government so sluggish on environmental issues if it isn’t for economic reasons? Of course they are on the side of their strong farmer voting base, and that sector interest will dominate, at least until they start to get hurt in the polls.
Playing into National’s hands
Bundling environmental issues up with left wing issues more generally simply plays into National’s hands. There are many voters out there who are concerned for our environment; including our degraded rivers and lakes, rising climate emissions and dwindling list of native critters. However, they also care strongly about economic prosperity and that tinges their political preference to the blue side. As is the nature of partisan politics these people would never vote for Labour, let alone a party that firmly defines itself as to the left of Labour like the Greens.
This is particularly the case in the small regional towns where many National supporters are despairing at the state of their waterways. By lumping environmental issues in with left wing issues activist groups allow National to ignore them or cynically offer inadequate solutions, safe in the knowledge that their supporters won’t desert them for Labour/ Greens.
So in a funny way, it is the left wing #ChangeTheGovernment agenda that is keeping the environment vs economy myth alive and well in the eyes of many.
TOP stands for the environment, regardless which Establishment Party is in government
TOP is prepared to work with whichever Establishment Party is elected by the New Zealand public. In working with the government of the day, our focus will be on making New Zealand fair and prosperous. By prosperous we mean in the true sense of the word, not just money in our pockets but improving our actual well being – which includes not just income but the other things New Zealanders’ value.
Labour and the Greens won’t work with National. Meanwhile Winston Peters and NZ First cannot be trusted to deliver on environmental issues. They support the subsidisation of irrigation and are on the record opposing attempts to by Regional Councils to improve fresh water quality.
If the New Zealand public elects National for a fourth term, as currently looks likely, TOP is the only party that can work with them to improve the economy and the environment at the same time.