Planet Economy lives on Planet Earth not in some distant galaxy

For National, Planet Economy is somewhere distant from Planet Earth. Bill English’s Budget speech didn’t even mention the environment or conservation. National demonstrated once again that it doesn’t understand that a healthy economy depends on a healthy environment.

Instead of investing in biodiversity protection National produced a zero sum budget for our native plants and animals and wild landscapes. The Government cut conservation funding again.

Landcare Research ecologist, John Innes has calculated that 26 million birds (chicks, eggs and females) are killed by predators each year – with stoats, possums, and rats the most destructive.

Most of our native birds are endangered or in decline. Increased conservation funding is urgently needed to prevent the extinction of kokako, mohua/yellowhead, whio, great spotted and brown kiwi and many other species.

DoC’s budget for 2012/13 will be $335 million compared to $338 million in 2011/12.  That’s about the same as the Hamilton City Council’s yet DoC manages one third of New Zealand and has extensive marine responsibilities.

Current funding means DoC can carry out pest control on only 1.2 million hectares of the eight million hectares of public land it manages.   In 2013/14 it may be even less.

Government’s “efficiency” demand means departments have to meet CPI increases, wage increases and superannuation costs themselves, with no increase in the baseline funding.  This has forced DoC to plunder $8.7 million from its Land Acquisition Fund to meet the funding shortfall in the year ahead.  That means no new reserves as the Fund was used to purchase areas of coastal and lowland forests and other habitats not well represented in the conservation estate.

The “efficiency cuts” means the Department will also do its work in 2012/13 without the 96 technical specialists, ecologists, planning, legal and other staff whose jobs disappeared in the last round of restructuring to “save” another $2.9 million.

National’s “efficiency” cuts will  hit DoC particularly hard in 2013/14.  Then the Department will have to cover the $8.7 million shortfall in its baseline by cutting another $2.9 million from natural heritage management and $2 million from recreation management.

It will also have to make further “savings” through a second wave of restructuring now underway. This is targeted at field offices. It’s likely to result in another round of job losses and loss of conservation expertise as dedicated and skilled staff have to leave.

Instead of tax cuts for the well off and billion dollar motorways, Government should prioritise safeguarding the future of our indigenous species.  A Green budget would do that.

11 Comments Posted

  1. Sam asks “Have you anything to say about cuts to the DOC budget, Photonz? ”

    Being a zero budget, for every cut there was extra spending. I think $60 million extra (I think that was the amount) putting 33,000 prisoners through drug, alcohol and literacy programmes will be money very well spent.

    Actually I think we are lucky not to have massive cuts across the ALL sectors considering we are spending billions more than we are earning.

    In a word, that’s unsustainable.

  2. Havn’t you heard about multiplier effects. Photo. You seem rather keen on them we you are advocating the benefits of the Taranaki oil industry.

    Though I will give you that 8 billion multiplier seems a bit excessive.
    However. The Dairy industry and the Rugby Union claim that sort of multiplier

    One billion of extra money going overseas on Hawaii holidays and gambling on derivatives instead of being spent locally, by low wage workers and Government, will remove several billion worth of spending at local businesses. Not to mention the compounding interest costs of converting all that money into foreign exchange.

  3. How about a win win situation which might help further(most!)everyones’ wishes. Send a few radicals (and reasonable others)into the hills and highways to be gainfully deployed in engaging with some supervised possum and rat trapping. The good possum pelts can be processed and sold with funding returned to further DOC initiatives and the ordinarily incarcerated (and doing what at huge public expense) can be contributing to their upkeep. I reckon there are endless positive possibilities. More commonsense and a willingness to make a bit of personal sacrifice is needed.Why is noone out there collecting all the autumn leaves off the berms for future sales of leaf mould…just a thought?

  4. I think photonz1 is just trying to point out that, contrary to what the greens apparently think, there isn’t a big money bin under parliament that you can just get as much money as you want so you can spend it on whatever you want whenever you want.

    Greece tried that plan and they had the EU to keep them going. Then they ran out of other people money.

  5. Have you anything to say about cuts to the DOC budget, Photonz? Or are you just trying to distract attention from them by pointing finger at the Green’s economic policies?

  6. Gregor says “For one thing, I seem to remember a pretty big deal being made out of CGT.”

    That was something else that was totally unrealistic – all the money being used from CGT when very little tax was going to be collected for 15-20 years.

    Even recently Russel Norman was still trying to blame an $8b deficit on the ($1.5b) tax cuts.

  7. The problem is the Greens think we can spend billions….all by reversing just $1.5 billion of tax cuts.


    I’m pretty sure your claim is complete nonsense.

    It would be big news for the GP to claim their entire programme could be exclusively funded by a tax cut reversal. For one thing, I seem to remember a pretty big deal being made out of CGT.

    Feel free to correct me with a cited source though.

  8. Great post Eugenie pointing out the typically short term thinking by dinosaur beancounters. Without a healthy environment we have nothing. And yes, I would rather invest additional money in DoC than motorways.

  9. The problem is the Greens think we can spend billions more on conservation, health, education, benefits, rail, prescriptions, student loans, working for families, as well as remove $8 billion of debt, all by reversing just $1.5 billion of tax cuts.

    Then they talk of being the economy being on a different planet.

    I can understand why it looks that way from where they are standing.

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