Parties come clean on environment

By Ruth Keber

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Each candidate had four minutes to state their party's policies on the environment.
Each candidate had four minutes to state their party's policies on the environment.

The Rena disaster, clean waterways and protecting the country's natural resources were just some of the issues raised at an election candidates meeting on environmental policies last night.

The meeting was organised by Tauranga Forest and Bird and Tauranga Environment Centre. About 120 people turned up for the meeting at Wesley Centre on Thirteenth Ave.

Tauranga National MP Simon Bridges said his party had set out clear environmental policies, such as improving the Resource Management Act, improving freshwater management, reducing waste and more renewable electricity.

"New Zealand's environment is at the core of our quality of life, our national identity and our competitive advantage, and National has a sound record of better environmental management," he said.

Green Party candidate Ian McLean said the fact the controversial container ship Vega Auriga had been allowed to enter the Port of Tauranga raised serious questions about current policies. "The lesson of the Rena is we need better management of our environment," he said.

The Green Party wanted to focus on the environment, deliver clean rivers and lakes.

Act candidate Stuart Pedersen said the Government needed to ensure that private companies were held responsible for damaging the environment - whether it was the Rena disaster or a cow breaking through a fence.

Labour candidate Rachel Jones said New Zealand could not have a healthy economy without a healthy environment. The National Party was driven by the economy and profits while Labour would protect the environment, she said.

NZ First candidate Clayton Mitchell said his party would create employment and sustainable wealth while improving one of New Zealand's few competitive advantages: its 100% Pure NZ brand.

Democrats for Social Credit candidate Tracy Livingston said the party wanted a GE-free New Zealand. It also wanted to ensure New Zealand farmers could buy their own farms by re-establishing a rural bank and making low interest loans available so they could afford to put the infrastructure in place to protect waterways.

New Zealand Independent Coalition leader Brendan Horan said he had been vocal on matters of the environment, including cleaning up waterways. The environment was important to New Zealanders and the independent coalition was established to better represent their values.

United Future's James Maxwell said the environment was one of the country's most precious resources and the Government was not doing enough to protect it.

"It must be used in a way to not cause permanent wide-spread damage."

Independent candidate Evette Lamar told the audience she wanted a clean and healthy environment. "We need to protect and respect the land we live upon."

Factbox

• Tauranga Branch of Forest and Bird has more that 700 individual members and covers an area from Te Puke to Waihi, bordering on the Waikato.

• The Tauranga Environment Centre is a community hub providing environmental information, education, and advice. It is also an independent resource management advisory service.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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