Fracking for Virginity

19 12 2013

Image

Priceless that the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce representative claims a happy co-existence between fracking and farming on the day Chinese news media report concerns about the impact of the petroleum industry on dairy production in Taranaki. I guess carrying milk in a truck previously used to cart contaminated fracking waste doesn’t go down so well with consumers after other recent Fonterra health scares.
In an age of 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, the oil industry line of ‘working towards a greener economy’ while exploring for more fossil fuels is like f***king for virginity.
The local landowner Councillor Akuhata-Brown made reference to has, like many other individuals and companies, made a large amount of money and created a lot of jobs in the green economy. So the choice is not between a high standard of living and the environment as Mr Chaudhari and his ilk claim, rather the question is what kind of economy do we want – cleaner, sustainable and more stable economic development or a volatile boom and bust race to burn the planet?
With a few central government policy tweaks that made polluters pay and rewarded renewables, the economy would shift very quickly to a resilient situation that built rather than undermined the reputation of New Zealand and our products.
The National Party scrapped regulations like the requirement to include a portion of renewables in all fuel sold, gutted an already weak ETS and continues to ignore the scientific and economic imperatives necessitating a just and enduring transition away from fossil fuels. While it is understandable most political parties focus on the short-term, voters next year should insist all political party manifestos commit to a plan that weans the country off fossil fuels production and consumption by 2050.





Census surprises

4 12 2013

IMG_2866

The Census results provide a useful set of information for anyone who cares about the future of our region.

With one in three locals now aged under 20 and half the population under 40, we need to ensure the voices of young citizens are heard clearly and that we provide decent support to help them grow as contributing members of our community. I would also be keen to hear from the three local teenagers who said they earn over $100,000 per year!

Ethnic and cultural identity figures are very interesting. The proportion of the population identifying as Māori remains about the same at 49 percent (likely to be a bit higher in reality). Many of us Pākehā seem to have some ambivalence and lack of confidence about our cultural identity. The number of local ‘European’ residents has jumped sharply, while those claiming ‘New Zealander’ as their ethnicity has dropped by over 3,000. Pacific peoples have increased by about 15 percent and other ethnic groups, including Asian, have all increased more modestly. While we may be one of least ethnically diverse regions, few others have Asian and African political leaders!

Though we do have 804 people – including the three teenagers – earning over $100,000, we have comparatively low income levels and the lowest home ownership rates in the country. We have also had a significant increase in the proportion of the population that hold a university degree. A population with higher levels of education should result in positive changes over time to income levels, home ownership and many other benefits. The key ingredient in that equation is a good match between education and employment opportunities. There is some good work being done in this space and a closer relationship between schools, employers and training providers will be critical.

With the lowest access to the internet at home, there is a great case for more public access options to information and communication technologies. The proposed neighbourhood computer hubs and better online options at schools, marae and the public library service all need significant support and investment to bridge the digital divide and enable new technology-based industries and employment opportunities to evolve quickly.

The Gisborne/Tairāwhiti region has the highest proportion of Māori language speakers in the country, with one in six of us being able to converse in Te Reo. I agree with the Chief Statistician who has called our region ‘the home of Te Reo’ – an asset we can use not only in tourism but also as a selling point for the tens of thousands of people – Māori and non-Māori – who want their children to grow up bi-lingual and in an environment where Māori traditions and values are maintained and appreciated.

All in all, I’d say the numbers suggest we are a pretty fascinating mix of awesomeness with plenty of room for improvement, but also much to be proud of.





Perfect timing for PCE freshwater report

21 11 2013

Image

A report on freshwater management released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment was exquisite timing given the release this month of two important regulatory documents according to District Councillor Manu Caddie.

A proposed National Objectives Framework (NOF) for Freshwater by the Ministry for the Environment is currently being consulted on and has received mixed responses from freshwater experts so far. The NOF, for the first time ever, sets absolute bottom lines for freshwater quality to protect ecosystems and human health. Some scientific commentators have said it is good that these bottom lines have been established, while others have criticised the proposed acceptable levels as too low and questioned the decision to exclude macroinvertebrates (small living critters in freshwater systems) as a measure of stream health as recommended by the expert panel advising the process.

A local Freshwater Advisory Group discussion document on the development of a regional Freshwater Plan will also be released by Gisborne District Council for consultation this month with a proposal for collaborative planning in the Waipaoa catchment.

“Irrigation demand is expected to increase dramatically over the next 30 years and establishing consensus amongst stakeholders and users while protecting the life sustaining qualities of waterways is going to be really important” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie said the PCE report paints a fairly positive picture of the Gisborne region in terms of water quality improvements from tree planting and hillsides reverting to indigenous bush.

“While Dr Wright’s report will have most implications for the regions that have seen massive dairy intensification, there are some good news stories in terms of the comparatively low levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in our waterways – in fact according to the report.”

“Gisborne is the only region predicted to have these nutrients decrease in our water, largely as a result of the farm conversions to forestry. Large areas of steep land have been, and are predicted to continue to be, converted to forestry. As a result, nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Waiapu catchment are predicted to decrease by 10% and 2% respectively below 1996 levels by 2020.”

The report notes the productivity of sheep/beef farming has improved by about 20% over the last twenty years. This increase may be more attributable to efficiency gains such as advances in animal genetics than to increased fertiliser inputs. The productivity of plantation pine forestry has not significantly changed in the last two decades. The report suggests Government plans to double the value of primary exports by 2025 should not be at the expense of the environment.

ENDS





The Vote

4 11 2013

The Vote

On Wednesday this week I’m part of a TV debate team with Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman and Greenpeace NZ Director Bunny McDiarmid debating the oil lobbyist David Robinson, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn and Bathurst Resources CEO Hamish Bohannan.
We put our cases for against more mining in NZ and 250,000 viewers get to vote! :) #NoPressure #GigatownGisborne





The Weight of Risk and the Risk of Waiting

15 10 2013

HDC Oil_Page_06

A paper I presented at the Oil & Gas Symposium, Hastings District Council, 11 October 2013.

DOWNLOADS:





Four Successful Candidates!

13 10 2013

Four Successful Candidates!

Thank you to everyone who supported us…





A new vision for local bodies…

9 10 2013

A new vision for local bodies...

Two days to go.
Nearly 2,000 votes less than last election.
Someone had to do something drastic.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,224 other followers