Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Climate swings donor left

Labour, Greens get $125k after Les Mills chief tires of lobbying National on global warming.

Phillip Mills says the government's response to the latest United Nations warnings on climate change had prompted him to take a side. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Phillip Mills says the government's response to the latest United Nations warnings on climate change had prompted him to take a side. Photo / Steven McNicholl

The head of an international fitness empire says he is donating $125,000 to Labour and the Greens because he is fed up with National's inaction on climate change.

Les Mills International chief executive Phillip Mills, a former New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year, has given donations totalling $64,999 to the Labour Party and $60,000 to the Green Party, which were declared by the two parties yesterday.

Mr Mills, son of Les Mills and a former New Zealand athlete, said he had been personally lobbying Prime Minister John Key and his Government for five years to make a meaningful response to the threats posed by a warming atmosphere.

He said he had been politically neutral until now, but Government's response to the latest United Nations warnings on climate change had prompted him to take a side.

"I've been trying impartially to deal with National. I've met with John Key around this a number of times ...

and really I held the hope that I and groups that I've been involved with would be able to get National to see sense."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported earlier this month that New Zealand was unprepared for between 2C and 4C of warming this century. Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said New Zealand was doing its fair share to reduce emissions and that the onus was on local councils to respond to the effects of climate change such as sea level rise.

Mr Mills said: "For me that was the end. I thought 'I've got to stand up and be counted now'.

"I think that it is morally reprehensible for any country to shirk its responsibilities in this area.

"Furthermore I think it makes no economic sense as we know green industry will be one of the biggest growth opportunities of our time."

He would not rule out further donations but said that the money he gave to Labour and Greens was a considerable amount and "a sacrifice".

He hoped that his contribution would motivate other business people to donate to parties which had hard-hitting policies on climate change.

Mr Mills founded the lobby groups 100% Plan and Pure Advantage, which promoted green growth.

He was critical of Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce's hesitation to expand green development because of the risks it could pose to business, saying it "shows the serious gaps in National's long-term economic strategy".

Mr Mills said that unlike his father, he did not have any political ambitions.

Les Mills was Mayor of Auckland between 1990 and 1998.

"I will never be in politics, having seen my dad go through it. It's not a field that I envy."

- NZ Herald

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