Bruce Bisset: Their money motivation our loss

By Bruce Bisset


Seems to me we are witnessing the death of any pretense at being "pure" environmentally thanks to a sustained campaign of abuse by National aided and abetted by their farming and developer mates.

And, since most citizens seem blissfully unaware of what we are losing - the level of protest being minimal, when it should be massive - perhaps we should replace the country's false "100 per cent pure" slogan with something more apt, such as: "We don't care".

The political climate has changed so radically that developers can demand more sites for housing around our major cities and almost immediately get Government backing to lay waste more prime land - regardless of local council planning regimes designed to intensify rather than spread the urban area.

Similarly any half-baked idea the mining or farming industries come up with - radioactive fracking in an earthquake zone, or importing genetically modified stock feed - either gets a blind eye or a big tick from the Government.

The lack of consideration involved is staggering.

For example, Federated Farmers' plea to allow individual farmers the "freedom" to use GMO crops and animals almost beggars belief.

What, so one too-eager cocky has the intricate scientific knowledge and technical nous to decide this complex issue? Absurd.

And even if he (or she) did, no one person - nor any one group, regardless of their assumed status - has the right to open up the inherently unpredictable can of worms that is genetic modification and potentially inflict ecologic disaster on all other life around them.

Clearly, despite flashy newcomers like incumbent president Bruce Wills trying to put a smart face on it, the Feds predominantly still hold to the "it's my bloody land and I'll do what I like with it" mantra.

This is the kind of thinking that led to one woman (allegedly) bringing in Italian pollen complete with PSA virus - and goodbye kiwifruit industry.

It's the kind of thinking that led (allegedly) to apiarists bringing in queen bees infected with varroa mite - and goodbye wild bees and beehives.

It's the kind of thinking that allowed such shoddy biosecurity that overseas anglers were (allegedly) able to fly straight to luxury lodges with didymo tainting their gear - and goodbye many of our best and wildest rivers.

The Feds may be Planet Key residents, but most of us prefer the real world - where the risks associated with new technology are properly assessed at governmental level, and the ability to prevent any lobby or industry group's attempt to circumvent the rules is retained.

Problem is the Government itself is now negligent in its cavalier approach to these issues. The wholesale dismantling of public protection mechanisms for air, land, and water looks like being the primary legacy of this National outfit - to our great loss.

Their pro-mining bias is opening up huge stretches of supposedly protected seabed to exploitation, and the new Crown Minerals Bill will reopen the door to mining in the public conservation estate.

Their subsidising of intensification of agriculture, particularly dairying, is best evidenced by the anti-democratic decision to again postpone regional council elections in Canterbury until 2016 so that irrigators can grab and lock up all the water supply without public scrutiny.

Something similar is about to happen here in Hawke's Bay, with the Ruataniwha water storage dam - supported by the Feds, note.

Their disembowelment-by-stealth of the RMA - primarily through sponsoring the adoption of "economy" as the premier measure of sustainability - makes a mockery of the whole concept of care.

At the same time they continue to disempower the Environment Court in favour of the appointed lapdogs of the EPA, the jurisdiction of which will be widened to include projects of regional as well as national significance.

Soon they'll be rubber stamping purely local consents, too.

While the few promised positives, such as bringing in a comprehensive Environmental Reporting Bill to gauge the state of the nation environmentally every five years, dropped out of sight as soon as the last election result came in.

I might forgive someone trashing my country through plain stupidity and ignorance.

I can't forgive this degradation when it's done with one simplistic aim in mind: to make more money.

Our children won't forgive it either. And in their eyes, we'll all be to blame.

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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