A Happy New Year to you all. I look forward to engaging with many of you this year, particularly those of you newly appointed to environmental portfolios.
In my office, the first quarter of 2016 will bring opportunities to provide advice to the House on proposed changes to three key areas of environmental policy: the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Resource Management Act, and marine protection legislation. I intend to make a submission on each.
Since the release of my 2013 report on the plight of the longfin eel, I have been encouraged by the Government’s response. It is imperative we do all we can to ensure the survival of this extraordinary species. Just recently, I gave my strong support to a proposal from the Ministry for Primary Industries to separate the South Island eel stocks – a welcome step in the right direction.
Elsewhere in my office, work is underway analysing Environment Aotearoa 2015 – the first ‘synthesis’ state of the environment report to be released following the passing of the Environmental Reporting Act. Investigations into agricultural greenhouse gases, cadmium accumulation in soil, and the future of New Zealand’s native birds, continue.
At the end of last year, I released a report on rising sea levels – one of the consequences of climate change. New Zealand needs to better prepare for the impacts of a rising sea on its coastal towns and cities. I am pleased to see that my report is being used by councils and communities as they grapple with this critical issue, which will be with us for a long time to come.
Please remember that I welcome invitations to discuss environmental matters with any Member or caucus at any time – not just when I release a report on a particular subject. The provision of independent advice to MPs is always my highest work priority.
Ka mihi kia koe, naku noa,
Dr Jan Wright
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment