Paying for Nationals propaganda | The Jackal

27 Jun 2014

Paying for Nationals propaganda

Don't let the current polling fool you, the September 2014 election will be perhaps one of the closest in New Zealand's history. It's no surprise then that the current right wing government is pulling out all the stops in promoting themselves.

With the help of a compliant mainstream media, the National party, United Future and the Maori party are all desperately trying to cling onto power and what better way to achieve that than with a few well placed photo opportunities to make themselves look good during an election campaign?

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

The cash-strapped Department of Conservation paid $6000 to fly three ministers, two TV crew and a photographer to the West Coast for a photo opportunity.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced last week that the Government would pass special legislation to allow the recovery of high-value native timber blown over in April's Cyclone Ita.

Parliament would this afternoon debate the emergency legislation.

To make the announcement last week, DOC chartered two helicopters for ministers Smith and Peter Dunne, and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell to fly from Nelson to Blue Duck Creek, in Karamea, and back.

They were accompanied by one reporter and two camera operators from TV3 and TVNZ, a photographer from the Nelson Mail and a handful of advisers.

The way the initial story was reported on TVNZ and 3 News had even some of the greenest minded conservationists amongst us thinking there was nothing wrong with removing windthrow damaged trees from our native forests. In fact that's what I initially thought as well. That's until I read some articles from more qualified people concerned with preserving our conservation estate.

Last week, Forest and Bird reported:

"The idea of not wasting timber may sound superficially sensible. But as soon as you look at the facts, the idea makes no economic sense at all,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“Flooding the market with large volumes of timber from the conservation estate will pose a direct threat to the established sustainable native timber industry, which includes those indigenous timber production forests in Southland that are covered by the South Island Landless Natives Act.

The other side of the story that jobs will also be lost because of this legislation wasn't told by our mainstream media at all. If they weren't looking through their blue tinted glasses they would have seen that there's actually no financial benefit if these logs are recovered using the least damaging processes. In fact there will be considerable damage caused to Karamea's ecology even if helicopters are used, because areas will still need to be clear felled.

However there's no stipulation within the hastily written West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill (PDF) that helicopters should be used. That means it will be left up to the loggers on how they remove the trees, some of which I'm sure won't have been damaged in Cyclone Ita at all. They will likely choose the most cost effective and subsequently damaging systems to recover these trees.

Not only is the government once again ignoring the advice of those who actually know what they're talking about, they're using precious funding allocated to DOC to promote themselves and their environmentally destructive agenda. That propaganda completely ignores the fact that there will be significant disturbance to the forest's ecology, damage that the forest may never recover from.

Undertaking a propaganda mission whereby there was absolutely no balance given to the story is bad enough, but using taxpayers money that was meant to be spent on other things is completely unacceptable!

With Damien O'Connor and Rino Tirikatene crossing the floor in support, the bill unfortunately passed into law last night, no independent scientific study required. Why this had to happen under urgency is still unclear?