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House of Representatives
6 November 2012
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12. Environmental Reporting—Reporting Regime and Potential Legislation

[Sitting date: 06 November 2012. Volume:685;Page:6272. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

12. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Does she plan to introduce legislation this year to establish independent state-of-the-environment reporting as the Government promised before the last election; if not, why not?

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister for the Environment) : The Government is committed to independent, high-quality environmental reporting, but it is unlikely legislation will be introduced this year, as my top legislative priorities for the year are improving our freshwater and natural resource management framework. It should be noted that part of the reason those reforms are needed is to address the current barriers to getting reliable, consistent data, which is the foundation of high-quality environmental reporting.

Eugenie Sage: In the interim, will her ministry prepare a comprehensive, national-level, state of the environment report?

Hon AMY ADAMS: What my ministry has committed to do is to continue to put out regular, up-to-date indicator reports on each of the very same areas that were covered in the state of the environment report put out in 2007. I note, in fact, that in the time that we have been the Government, we have to date published 30 such reports, and it is our intention to continue to publish those reports while we work on the legislative framework for the new, independent, high-quality environmental reporting structure.

Eugenie Sage: So when does the Minister expect that independent, high-quality environmental reporting structure to be in place?

Hon AMY ADAMS: As I indicated in answer to the primary question, it is my intention to first of all ensure that we have reliable, consistent data coming through, and we have indicated that we have discovered a number of barriers to getting that. To date in the time since I have been Minister, we have done a number of things. We have introduced 10 new tier one statistics for environmental statistics, taking them from the existing two up to 12. We have worked with local councils on how we will improve the data coming through, and we are working on reforming the Resource Management Act to ensure that we can collect that data. When that is together, and I hope that is as soon as possible, we want to complete the legislative vehicle to deliver those reports.

Eugenie Sage: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a question about when. The Minister enumerated a number of issues, but she did not say when, which is a time issue.

Mr SPEAKER: It may just possibly be, given that the events the Minister described have to take place first, that she cannot put a date on exactly when at this stage. That seemed pretty obvious. I cannot expect Ministers to give word for word an answer the member wants, but it is pretty clear that the Minister made very clear what has to happen first.

Eugenie Sage: Given that the previous Minister for the Environment promised that legislation would be introduced this year, and that the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment would be producing a report next year, how can New Zealanders be confident about the state of our environment without comprehensive, national-level monitoring and reporting, given that she has cancelled the report due in December?

Hon AMY ADAMS: First of all, I would note that the member’s assertion on which she bases her question is factually incorrect. What I would also comment is that that member herself has said that what the country needs is accurate, reliable, and regular national-level reporting, and, as I answered in the primary question, in the last 4 years we have produced 30 such reports.

Eugenie Sage: Could I table a speech by the previous Minister for the Environment, the Hon Nick Smith, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, when he said that the Government looks forward to public discussion—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This document is readily available on the parliamentary website, I take it, because it is a speech made by a Minister? [Interruption] Order! We do not need to table it. The House already has that information.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I seek leave for the Environmental Reporting Bill, in the name of Grant Robertson, to be introduced and set down for first reading as members’ order of the day No. 10.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that course of action. Is there any objection? There is objection.