The National Party will try to restore some authenticity to the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand brand with a plan to rank rivers from dirtiest to cleanest and back widespread freshwater clean-ups.
Environment Minister Nick Smith will formally announce the full details of the party's environment policy today in Nelson.
At the heart of the policy is the introduction of an Environment Reporting Act, which will attempt to produce nationally consistent monitoring of New Zealand's air quality, water, and land.
Dr Smith said: "We're the only OECD country that does not have statutory environmental reporting. Our view is that open and reliable reporting of how well we're doing on everything from clean air, clean water, protection of biodiversity, management of oceans, and waste... helps ensure that we improve performance."
The party expected to introduce the law change in 2012 with a first statutory report produced in 2013, which would rank rivers and lakes from best to worst and show which regions needed the most attention.
The responsibility for this environmental audit will be given to an independent body, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
"This will put the reform at arm's length from the Government of the day, to ensure that it's not a piece of salesmanship but a genuine auditor's view on how well New Zealand is doing," said Dr Smith.
He said statutory reporting would also provide a good guide for international commentators - something National is acutely aware of after Prime Minister John Key was roasted in a BBC interview on the health of New Zealand's freshwater.
National will announce a bigger commitment to clean up New Zealand's lakes and rivers and also a new oceans policy. At present New Zealand has no environmental protection beyond the 12-mile limit.
A new waste initiative will be launched, which will include a nationwide programme to recycle the country's 1.3 million CRT televisions..
National's environment policy will also create incentives for electric car users, such as an exemption from road user charges.
Meanwhile, Act has announced plans to overhaul the "Frankenstein legislation" it says the Resource Management Act (RMA) has become.
Leader Don Brash announced the policy yesterday in a speech to the Whangarei Rotary Club, pledging to reform the current system to cut out bureaucracy.
Dr Brash said the original intention of the law was to make it easier for people to develop and use their properties, but that it had instead given license for local government to impose huge costs.
National last week announced its RMA policy, which included introducing a six-month limit on processing consents for medium-sized regional projects, such as retail developments, new subdivisions, infrastructure and industrial developments.
Dr Brash criticised the policy, saying it amounted to "restraining RMA Frankenstein with the filly ribbons of an under-cooked and oversold policy reform".
- Additional reporting: Amelia Romanos
National Environment Policy
- New oceans policy to improve protection of waters more than 12 miles offshore
- Incentives for electric car users
- New waste initiative, including nationwide programme to recycle old TVs
- New Environment Reporting Act to transform environmental monitoring
- Funding for freshwater clean-ups