8 August 2013
This week I am not going to write about the GCSB, the Henry inquiry, the breach of a journalist’s privacy, or stolen emails – I am saving all that for the novel!
Rather, I want to concentrate on our tarnished green reputation. From Fonterra to rivers not safe to swim in, the image of environmentally pristine New Zealand is taking a hammering. We are apparently not quite as pure after all, as we have deluded ourselves to believe. It would appear our green values have been hijacked by the far left of politics, with substance replaced by causes and slogans, so no-one takes care for the environment seriously any more.
The Greens’ attacks on business, and stands against sustainable development have led many middle of the road people, who still care nonetheless, to run a mile from such issues, because they now see them as too polarising and extreme. Meanwhile, rivers are degraded and poor environmental practices allowed to survive by default. But concern about the environment should not be just the prerogative of the young, the idealistic, or the socialist.
Middle New Zealand keenly wants to play its part, but has had enough of its values and concerns being sneered at and derided for not being pure enough. The net result has been their apathy. And degraded rivers, polluted beaches and now Fonterra’s crisis have been the consequence.
It is time to build a new environmental consensus around the concepts of balance and sustainability on which the Resource Management Act is based. An environment where the renowned New Zealand values of enjoying the great outdoors – respecting nature – are back in play. One where development is seen as necessary for sustainable growth, and not a dirty word. And an environment where we all care enough to want to leave something positive for future generations to enjoy.
This is not about politics or ideology – it is far more important than that. It is about the future we want for ourselves and our children. And because of that it is about all of us – not just the well-meaning activists using the issue to push a wider agenda of political and social change.
In short, it is time to stop the games and the pandering to sectional interests, and reclaim the environmental high grounds by focusing anew on what fits best with the lifestyle those of us who call these islands home want to enjoy.