Sunday, 8 December 2019

Nanny state bans a distraction from serious challenges


Bans on fruit stickers, cotton buds and plastic cutlery are a distraction from the serious public policy challenges facing New Zealand”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“This Government was elected to solve the housing crisis, but it has failed to increase land supply and house prices continue to rise ahead of inflation. Child poverty is worse despite the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to the issue. A new international report this week said that one in five students leave school unequipped for life.

“Bans on single-use plastics represent nanny statism and emotional environmentalism.

“The Government must explain how strong the evidence for these bans is. The Chief Science Advisor’s ‘Rethinking Plastics’ interim report suggests a serious lack of data on New Zealand’s contribution to the plastics issue:

  • ‘8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced globally and the majority of that (79%) has gone to landfill or leaked into the environment…We do not know New Zealand’s contribution…’
  • ‘In many instances, data is not collected at all or at a level useful to inform policy decisions.’
  • ‘…there is no data quantifying the amount of ocean plastics attributed to mismanagement of waste from New Zealand…’
  • ‘There are significant gaps in our understanding of the scale of plastic leakage into our land and marine environments.’
    “How can we effectively tackle a problem when that problem hasn’t been defined?

“It’s the ban on single-use plastic bags all over again. The level of policy analysis on that issue was so poor that the Minister didn’t even define the problem she was trying to solve. Eugenie Sage told me she had no idea what proportion of single-use plastic bags ended up in waterways.

“Stuff reports that the Prime Minister is personally invested in this project, motivated by letters from schoolchildren. While it is encouraging that schoolchildren are taking an interest in politics, public policy should be informed by real data.

“The Government should be focussed on issues like increasing the supply of new housing, tackling child neglect, and supporting the one in five children who leave school unequipped for life.

“Instead, it is making the lives of New Zealanders slightly more difficult when there appears to be no real evidence of the scale of the problem.”