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March 31, 2014 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Government Prunes Grapevine

The Greens have accused the Government of trying to cover up environmental degradation with a new Environmental Reporting Bill, but the Government has promised there will be no interference.

Under the proposed legislation, the Ministry for the Environment and the Government Statistician will monitor the environment, and the Environment Commissioner will review the results of their research.

Reports on individual environmental domains – such as water, air, climate and land – will be produced every six months. A comprehensive report covering all domains will be produced every three years.

Green Party Spokesperson for the Environment Eugenie Sage told Salient that the current make-up of the legislation would undermine the purpose of monitoring the environment.

“The Government has retained the power to determine what environmental data is collected, and thus can deliberately not collect data which it knows will paint a poor picture of our environment.”

“The National Government is breaking their promise to have fully independent environmental reporting because the Government is keen to cover up the environmental degradation that it has overseen… The public deserve to be told the truth about the state of our environment, even if it is politically inconvenient for the government of the day,” said Sage.

Minister for the Environment Amy Adams, who has tabled the Bill, said that she would have no ability to direct the content of the reports, and that these would be compiled at “arms-length”.

Adams told Salient the Bill would “provide a reliable basis for environmental discussions.”

“The Government wants to shift the debate so it is focusses on the issues and long-term trends that affect our environment, not be distracted by arguments over whether the reporting is accurate and consistent,” Adams said.

New Zealand is one of the only OECD countries without a legal mandate for independent reporting on the state of the environment.

 

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