Hobson Article - September 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The challenge of improving living standards quite rightly takes up a lot of our attention in government.  Delivering stable and fiscally sustainable government creates an environment where people feel more confident to invest, and it’s investment that leads to jobs, economic growth and the ability to pay for quality health, education, superannuation and the many other things that improve our lives.

Our Business Growth Agenda encompasses a long list of projects designed to build a more productive and competitive economy that can deliver more and higher paying jobs and better prices for consumers.  Tackling long-standing deficits in house building and transport infrastructure are an important part of that story. 

And yet improving our living standards, today and tomorrow, is not the limit of our horizons.  We also think a lot about how to preserve what is special about New Zealand.  We’re not perfect, but compared with much of the world Auckland does ethnic diversity very well and we enjoy relative social harmony.  We also enjoy a high-trust, low-corruption environment.  These things are very precious and must be preserved.

And, of course, the quality of our natural environment is central to who we are.  The most entertaining community event I’ve attended recently saw a few dozen Remuera locals donning their gumboots and bringing their spades to Waiata Reserve.  We were planting native trees above the little stream that runs through the valley.  Kids, adults and dogs had a great time, sliding and falling over in the treacherous wet clay. A few decades hence some of those little puriris, kauri, Manuka and flax will look great.

It was the same long-term view that lay being the Prime Minister’s adoption of the ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of the worst introduced predators by 2050.

New Zealand’s native birds and plants are a treasured part of our nation’s identity. We use symbols of the kiwi and the silver fern to represent our country, and our native species are a source of national pride. However, many of our most threatened native animals come under constant attack from introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums. These animals kill around 25 million native birds a year and are the most significant cause of New Zealand’s decline of threatened species.

Predators also wreak havoc for our agricultural sector by spreading disease, and destroying pasture, crops and forestry. Predators have been roaming New Zealand’s forests and destroying our natural environment for more than a century. The Government’s predator-free plan is a comprehensive, long term approach to the problem and relies on the support of communities and organisations throughout the country.

A new company will be launched, which will match Government resources with local government, community groups, iwi and philanthropists to develop predator eradication programmes.
Not only will the initiative help restore our native birds and boost our agricultural industry, it’s also set to improve the health of our forests.

The target builds on the work already being done. Pest control is at an all-time high, and earlier this year we committed over $20 million to New Zealand’s biggest ever pest control operation, Battle for our Birds.
Achieving a predator free New Zealand is the next step in our conservation journey. The project will require a massive effort from our communities, but just imagine what this place would be like if we could do it.