A few things from the Greens newsletter I received caught my eye, and made me want to move out of New Zealand even sooner than originally desired. When National was voted in, I don’t think most people voting for them realised how awful things could get. The recent protests against mining and the Ecan sackings are only a few examples of actions that not only enraged many sensible New Zealanders, but National voters at well (heheh…sorry, couldn’t resist). Then there was the idea to partly privatise prisons (now potentially in action), and now, ACC (you can also read the bill for arguments of the parties). I don’t have time to fully give background on all these issues (doing an Honours year), but I think it’s important that people know what is happening in this country, and I don’t mean visits by some boyish teen sensation, but the disgusting and ugly side of the “clean green” image we purport to present to the rest of the world. Unfortunately for us, people the world over are catching on. Here are a few things that we, and the rest of the world, might want to know:
NZ Food Safety Authority finding illegal levels of lead and outlawed poisons in imported food, then doing nothing to alert the public or remove the toxic food from the shelves. Also, who eats Vietnamese catfish?! Well, I just did a little google, and apparently, the US does, but recently slapped a tariff increase on it because it was competing with the US fish market. The US accused the Vietnamese of “dumping” the fish at ridiculously low prices. Ah, the hypocrisy one can engage in when you’re the most powerful country in the world (If you don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s US corn and grain, except when the US does it, it’s “food aid” – and all this is being supported by the US taxpayer through subsidies to corn growers). Sorry, back to NZ…
The release of methyl bromide (bromomethane), a cancer-causing and ozone-depleting chemical used as a fumigant for exported logs, into the atmosphere, where workers are exposed to it without being properly informed of how toxic it is. The Wikipedia page notes the use of it in NZ and some of its properties, the health effects sections specifically mentions NZ. Read the Q&A with Environment Minister Nick Smith. He basically acknowledges that it is being released into the atmosphere, but seems to regard trading of the logs as less important than the health of the workers: “recapture technologies for methyl bromide are being trialled at my own port in Nelson. But if the use of methyl bromide was suddenly stopped, there would be a huge problem for New Zealand in terms of its exports of logs and timber products to key markets like Australia, China, and India, which require its use.” Ballsy, Nick, really ballsy.
If you have any other resources, even ones that don’t agree with the views expressed in the articles I’ve linked, PLEASE post in the comments!