The Green Party got 5.3 per cent of the vote at the last election, giving it six MPs in Parliament. "Only 6822 votes saved the Greens from political oblivion last year," Dr Smith said in his speech. "If we can convince just one in 20 of those Green voters that National is a better bet than the Greens, that alone would be enough, all other things being equal, for National to win in 2008."So far, so ho hum then. If 6822 people hadn't voted Green last year then the Greens would be gone. And if National could have persuaded them to vote National instead, then Team Blue would have won on the day. Hardly 'visionary', but this is Nick Smith, readers. So what then does Nick the Dick propose to seduce the environmental voter?
Dr Smith said National was exploring some new ideas with the development of environmental policy.Oh yes? And what, I say with trepidation, might those 'ideas' be? It's certainly true that there's an enormous market out there for rational, rights-based environmentalism -- but is Nick Smith really the man to meet that market? I doubt it, but I went to Scoop to check. There online is Smith's whole sorry speech outlining his strategy for the Blue Team to attract Green votes -- "a teaser," Smith called the speech, to develop "a Bluegreen agenda that will fit with National Party values."
Since the twin standards of property rights and common law protection of them have over seven-hundred years of success in protecting the environment -- as organisations like the American PERC and the Canadian Environment Probe have been pointing out for some time in publications, campaigns, reports, books, articles, speeches, op-eds, guides, media releases, and radio and TV appearances -- and since these two time-honoured legal standards are surely in line with what are at least said to be "National Party values," I searched Smith's text excitedly to see if these phrases put in an appearance. Any at all.
I searched in vain.
So what ideas were there in the speech? I looked eagerly for fresh, new ideas. Was there perhaps a call for a new environmentalism, one that puts human beings first? No, there wasn't. Did he resolve to repair the many environmental tragedies of the commons that despoil the country, and threaten native wildlife? No, he didn't. A recognition perhaps that capitalism is cleaner than all other alternatives? That property rights in the defence of nature is an idea that could galvanise environmentalists and economists alike, and defend the rights of land-owners right across the country to boot? Of course not.
Instead of sound, fresh, free-market and property-rights based approaches to environmentalism, what was delivered instead were the same tired old nostrums with nary a new coat of paint. "National’s Bluegreen approach to New Zealand’s environmental challenges" includes the following top-down, addled authoritarianisms from Smith:
- Strong support for "the principle of sustainability"- as EnviroSpin Watch says, the idea that "no growth at all, or limited growth of a type only approved of by an elite few"; the notion that no existing resources may be used without government permission, and no new resources created.
- His group will be "looking at 'community conservation'"- a way to buy, quite literally, the support of 'grassroots environmentalists' by doling out taxpayers' money to them.
- "We should," says Nick, "also be upping the ante on emissions standards [for cars]"- expect more expense then for more car owners.
- "We do need to further develop our network of marine reserves"- some of us still remember how Nick's own Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act (HGMPA) was introduced to lie across the RMA, to 'complement' it, and to make its effect on property-owners even worse; and how without the kind of community-wide protest that has yet to ignite Whangamata, Nick's Act and the RMA between them nearly killed the Whitianga Waterways project? Remember? Nick the Dick wants more of the same. More of it. Moron.
- Nick wants "new national parks ... including the Waitakere Ranges"- among these Ranges up to 21,000 people presently make their homes; this on its own would make Nick's virulently interventionist HGMPA look modest by comparison.
- "A big idea we should be thinking about is tradable water rights"- that, dear readers, is as close as this idiot comes to sense; seven years after being kicked out as Environment Minister he wants to "think about" tradeable water rights. Sheesh.
- "We also should be thinking about tradable emission permits around the whole challenge of climate change"- he's really on the cutting edge of nonsense, isn't he? Could he get any more flaccid, you wonder? Yes, I'm afraid he can.
- To remedy the problem of "fresh water quality, and issues like nitrification of iconic lakes like Rotoiti, and didymo in our southern rivers," Nick proposesnot recognising property rights in New Zealand's watercourse and lake and seabeds as would be both sensible and in line with "National's values," but more of the same top-down authoritarian eco-fascism that caused the problems in the first place.
- That is: "On issues like solid waste, fresh water quality and contaminated sites we [need] some stronger direction from central government... I believe we can get better economic and environmental outcomes from an EPA approach."- for those who don't know the American EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency), it is an all-encompassing, all-powerful leviathan that sits astride land development, land use, economic development and the growth of industry more effectively and more stiflingly than perhaps any other single bureaucracy except the IRS. If this behemoth and its hydra-headed offshoot of regulations and sub-agencies is in line with "National values," then those values are even more blighted than I thought. But this is the man who called the RMA far-sighted environmental legislation...
- "...a comprehensive RMA reform package... [that is] not about lowering environmental standards but about reducing the cost, delays and uncertainty of the process"
- "A new area of work we must get our head around is compensation to landowners ... for confiscation of their land under the Public Works Act."
- "We are keen to give hunters a greater role in management of their game... [and] it is time recreational fishers had a far greater say in managing their resource."
- I've talked before and at length about why the RMA doesn't need reviewing, but abolishing; and I've talked before about how Nick's nostrums are not even 'reform' of the Act he calls "far-sighted environmental legislation," but "window dressing" -- as he himself admits. Idiot.
"There is lots of work to do to develop these ideas," says Nick. He's not wrong. "We want your input," he says. Well, he's had mine. "We want," says Nick, "a Bluegreen agenda that will fit with National Party values, deliver for the environment, and help energise the public into trusting us with the stewardship of this precious country in 2008." What he has proposed instead is, to summarise, confiscation, nationalisation, eco-fascism and the continuation of his view that the RMA and his HG Marine Park Act is "far-sighted environmental legislation."
There is nothing new here, nothing; just the same dreary, unimaginative, authoritarian me-tooism we've come to expect from Smith and his colleagues. So how does Blue-Green wetness differ from Red-Green 'Watermelonism'? At least the Watermelons are honest.
PERC - Improving environmental quality through markets - PERC
Property rights in defence of nature (online book) - Elizabeth Brubaker, Environment Probe
The unsustainablility of 'sustainability' - EnviroSpin Watch
The common law and the environment: rethinking the basis for modern environmental law (summary) - book, edited by Roger Morris & Andrew Morris, PERC
National 'needs 1 out of every 20 Green voters'- NZ Herald
A Bluegreen vision for New Zealand - Scoop
Nick Smith: Idiot. - Not PC
For further reading, I encourage you to visit my own archive of posts and articles on Environment, Property Rights, Conservation and Common Law.
TAGS: Environment, Property Rights, Conservation, Common Law, Politics-National, Politics-NZ.