The Opportunities Party welcomes the Green Party fresh water policy “Protecting Drinking Water”. The issues they have raised – charging commercial water users and resolving Treaty issues – are all aligned with TOP’s Clear Water Action Plan. There is clearly enough common ground to work with them on these issues.
It is interesting that the Green Party have chosen to focus their policy on drinking water, and seems to ignore that our fresh water environment has intrinsic value, as well as providing many other uses to people than simply drinking. But if that is what it takes to get them interested in fresh water, we can live with that.
By acknowledging that other commercial water users should be charged, the approach seems to fit well with Labour’s stance. In fact, arguably the Green Party’s policy is no real progress over Labour’s (although Labour’s stance was presented in a rather confusing fashion). That is a rather odd position for a supposedly environmental party to be in.
Of course with any establishment party, their policy does raise more questions than it answers. Firstly, like Labour’s policy, there is very little detail on their approach to improving the quality of our rivers and lakes without completely destroying farming. Secondly, it isn’t clear why they are imposing a 10c per litre tariff on water bottlers and leaving other water users to a nebulous nationwide process?
Is water bottling inherently worse than other commercial water users? Some might argue that it is actually better for the environment than spraying 250 litres of water on the land to grow grass, which is eaten by cows to make a litre of milk, which then has the water taken out of it to be shipped overseas. In the process the cow creates greenhouse gases, excrement, and leaches nitrogen into the water. Sending a litre of water directly overseas might actually be a better proposition for the New Zealand economy and environment.
But the largest barrier isn’t the Green Party’s ideas, it is the implementation. How would the Green Party work with their potential coalition partner New Zealand First? Particularly given they completely oppose resolving the Treaty issues and any charge for fresh water. New Zealand First have also made it clear they will oppose Labour and the Green’s promises to regulate farmers in order to improve the quality of rural rivers and lakes.
It seems that the biggest barrier to environmental progress at this election is the fact that the so-called Kingmaker is regressive.