Our Nation's Report Card Makes Interesting Reading

The New Zealand Institute has produced the NZahead report card that provides an overview of New Zealand's social, economic and environmental wellbeing. By measuring our performance in 16 key areas it hopes to generate robust discussion and support prioritization in future decision making.

It makes especially interesting reading because when we are ranked against other developed nations it puts into perspective how well we are performing and highlights where our government's priorities should be.

If you look at where we perform best we find that we are ranked 4th in the world in education and 3rd for our per capita levels of agriculture and forestry.

The areas where we perform worst and near the bottom of the OECD are:
  • Income inequality, this especially disadvantages children where a high percentage live in substandard housing and low income households.  
  • Mortality through assault (worse than the US and Mexico) 
  • Low household wealth (largely due to mortgages on overpriced housing) 
  • Low productivity, while our manufacturing industries are strong our performance in housing, finance and renting is particularly poor and yet these are the areas where much money has been focussed but have suffered through poor regulatory controls and over investment.
  • Innovation and Business Sophistication, our investment in R&D has been particularly poor over recent years and because of a focus on the flawed National Standards, science advisors to schools have been sacked and the introduction of our world leading Technology curriculum has been effectively delayed.
  • Water Quality, while currently not amongst the worst overall the obvious decline in our water quality is a concern. Nitrate levels in most rivers are rapidly rising and many currently degraded lakes are continuing to deteriorate. 
  • CO2e emissions per capita make us the 4th worst in the world and with the Government's energy focus on fossil fuels, especially lignite, this will only worsen. 
It is interesting that the Government is doing its best to create a crisis in education where we are doing particularly well and dismantling what made us successful with the introduction of National Standards and cutting funding to early childhood. As for agriculture and forestry I don't see any effort to ensure these industries are being managed sustainably or used as potential areas of employment growth.

In the areas where we are failing dismally I see nothing substantial in the latest budget to show that the National Government is determined to address them in any effective way. I can imagine what our report will look like after another National term of office and it won't be a good one!


Anonymous said…
So water quality? Hmm, following your post re Campbell Live I was stunned at the circus of denial. So 1 in 9 Dairy farmers are non compliant in effluent disposal? And Ali Timms shrugs off the question posed... Is Environment Southland responsible? Ummm YES!
This area had world status why was any Dairying ever permitted in this area? Just as it has been in another unique location The Catlins! It is negligence to allow this activity, any moron knows the consequences to a fragile ecosystem. 100% PURE! What a joke! Money hungry corporates and Government Literally do not give a shit! And the shit flows into this lagoon... How sad! Next on the list, penguins, dolphins, sea lions gone as the green cow shit flows!
bsprout said…
You are partially right Anonymous, Environment Southland could very well have had made some difference in the past and the previous Council was chaired by someone who approached the role as if it was an extension of Federated Farmers. This is not the case with the current council who are desperately trying to reverse the damage done previously. However, the real issue is with central government who have not provided councils with the regulatory teeth to do their job. I recently put in a submission against a dairy conversion that was proposed and situated immediately beside one of our most pristine beaches and tourist attractions (Curio Bay http://www.curiobay.org/).

My argument was that the local economy was dominated by tourism and a dairy farm in that locality would be in direct conflict with natural and clean image being promoted. The local surfing school even advertised the clean environment as a drawcard. As you mentioned rare Hector dolphins also frequent the bay and yellow eyed penguins nest in the area too and I also expressed concern at the potential damage to wildlife.

I quickly found that the regional and environment councils were hamstrung by regulation, especially the RMA and the external issues I had brought up could not be used as a factors in any decision. They put in quite stringent operating criteria, but the conversion went ahead.

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