National resources vision criticised

Grant Robertson.
Grant Robertson.
The Government's latest Business Growth Agenda is long on rhetoric and short on substance, despite several ministers being involved in the release yesterday of the Building Natural Resources report.

The report set out the 49 initiatives the Government says it is taking to improve the way New Zealand uses and manages its resources.

Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement the report encouraged businesses to find ways to become more innovative to get the best results for the economy and the environment.

Building Natural Resources highlighted how recommendations from the Green Growth Advisory Group were being integrated into the Government's wider growth agenda, Mr Joyce and Environment Minister Amy Adams said.

However, in a separate release from Mr. Adams entitled ''Progress update on Greening New Zealand's Growth recommendations'', most of the recommendations were accompanied by a progress update that just confirmed the Government was either currently investigating, reviewing or agreeing to - rather than doing.

Mr Joyce said the report set a vision for ensuring environmental outcomes improved over time while still achieving the growth needed to lift New Zealand exports to 40% of GDP.

''New Zealand has abundant natural resources. We rank eighth in the world for our overall natural capital and first ... on renewable resources per capita. Our resource base is a significant source of wealth and competitive advantage."

The Building Natural Resources report was released on the same day as Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley awarded the Block Offer 2012 exploration permits.

Mr Joyce said the Government was taking a hard look at how all resources were managed so the economy could grow while the environment was looked after.

Labour Party deputy leader and environment spokesman Grant Robertson said the Government should be embarrassed by its lack of action on green growth.

''The response the Government has given today to its own task force is a pathetic attempt, full of waffle and devoid of action.

''From the gutting of the Emissions Trading Scheme to the vague and weak rules in the Exclusive Economic Zone legislation, to the cuts in funding the Department of Conservation and the lack of action on water quality, this Government has shown disregard for the importance of our environment,'' Mr Robertson said.

Political lobby group Straterra said the Government's vision to build growth and jobs in New Zealand through sustainably using New Zealand's natural resources would be great for the industry if supported by a fair, stable and competitive regulatory regime.

''To achieve this, Government needs to ensure its continued reform of the Resource Management Act is done in coordination with a raft of other reforms coming through which will impact on our industry,'' Straterra chief executive Chris Baker said.

The Sustainable Business Council said the resources report was a critical part of the Government's business growth agenda. Council executive director Penny Nelson said getting a large scale increase in export growth while steadily improving the quality of the environment was the goal.

''Better dialogue among businesses and communities leading to decisive, responsible development of our resources will help bring the goal to reality,'' she said.

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