By James Murray
Prime Minister John Key and New Zealand’s environmental record have been put under the spotlight in an interview on the BBC programme Hardtalk.
Mr Key found himself having to defend New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure’ slogan as BBC journalist Stephen Sackur grilled him about whether New Zealand really is as clean and green as the tourism campaign would suggest.
Mr Sackur cited Mike Joy, a leading environmental scientist at Massey University, who recently said “we are delusional about how green and clean we are”.
“That might be Mike Joy’s view, but I don’t share that view,” said Mr Key when Mr Sackur presented him with the quote.
Mr Joy made the comment while pointing out that many New Zealand species are facing extinction and more than half the countries lakes and low-land rivers are polluted.
“I’d hate to get into a flaming row with one of our leading academics,” said Mr Key, “but he is offering his view.”
Mr Sackur then pointed out that Mr Joy was a scientist and would have based his comments on research.
Mr Key replied:
“Well he’s one academic, and like lawyers I can give you another one that will give a counterview.”
The Prime Minister said that in comparison to the rest of the world New Zealand is ‘100% Pure’, but Mr Sackur disagreed, saying; “100 percent is 100 percent and clearly you’re not 100 percent. You’ve clearly got problems with river pollution, you’ve clearly got problems with species facing extinction.”
Mr Sackur said Mr Joy blamed decades of poor New Zealand government policy.
“I don’t completely agree with that position,” said Mr Key.
“For a start, yes of course the population is getting larger and that causes some pollution and yes we have a large agricultural base. So as we have intensified our dairy operations, that has had an impact on our river quality. The Government has been demanding much higher environmental standards.
“But for the most part you jump in any New Zealand river or stream, you breathe the air or walk up a mountain. I’d argue that if you don’t believe it is clean and green you need to show me a country which is cleaner and greener.”
Mr Sackur then brought up New Zealand’s commodity relationship with China, suggesting New Zealand were mirroring Australia’s mineral exports to the Asian powerhouse.
“Are you happy to see China buying into New Zealand agriculture?” asked Mr Sackur.
Mr Key replied that he was happy to have China as a “big market”.
He said New Zealand was a master of its own destiny and he had welcomed investment from China.
China was New Zealand’s second biggest market with two-way trade figures at “$12 billion heading to $20 billion”.
source: newshub archive