The next three years
Whether your team won or not, we’ve got a new government that’s going to make some changes. Our chief executive Philip Squire reflects on what that might mean for our work in environment, healthy housing and social equity.
The results of the recent election have seen a change to the left in NZ governance. Labour, Greens, and NZ First have agreed on a number of policies that on first blush provide some significant wins for social equity, environment, and housing.
Of course no matter how well-intentioned the policies are there is no guarantee that they will actually be created into law in their election-promise state. But they do provide some strong indicators that the government is serious on tackling some of the most serious social and environmental issues our country faces.
Here’s the ones that are closest to our hearts at Sustainability Trust:
1. Climate change: A Zero Carbon Act and independent climate change commission is promised. What this means is that firstly New Zealand must come up with a plan to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, and that most policy work across government will have to consider climate change implications. Big wins for the planet, social responsibility and our ability to once again hold up our heads on the world stage.
2. Warm, dry housing: A raft of potential policies that will provide support for vulnerable households to access warm, dry housing and pay energy bills. These include:
a. A strengthened legislation which will guarantee minimum heating, insulation, and ventilation requirements for all rental properties.
b. Grants of up to $2000 for all homes to insulate and heat up to minimum standards.
c. Winter fuel supplements of $75 for low-income households to assist with cost of heating
d. NZ First also discussed nationalising the big three energy companies – watch that space as NZ First has the State-owned Enterprise portfolio. But at the very least, they have negotiated a review into retail power pricing which should see some hard questions being asked as to the rapid increase in lines and retail charges over the years since deregulation.
3. Transport: Reprioritising for low-carbon alternatives. This could mean a slow down on Roads of National Significance (RONs) and more funding for rail, cycle infrastructure and public transport options. Of interest to Wellington citizens is the hold on removing our trolley bus fleet. Again with leadership from the top on a low-carbon economy we may see decision makers all the way down the line carefully analysing infrastructure investment with climate impacts top-of-mind.
4. Waste minimisation: Commitment to minimising waste to landfill by a reduction in all waste classes by 2020.
5. Wages: On top of all of this there is a commitment to raising the minimum wage over the next three years to $20/hour. Directly addressing disposable income for struggling households is a laudable policy and will assist with keeping homes warm and dry once the basics of heating, ventilation, and insulation have been installed.
We, and our partners, will be working with the incoming ministers over the next year to provide practical advice on the roll out of these policies from a community perspective. Getting most of our policy wish list granted is a huge surprise and now a responsibility to actually make some significant impact.
We’re up for it, and encourage all our friends and partners to keep up the conversation with elected officials – they’ll need to have continued robust feedback and support to get these polices enacted and rolled out.
Comments are closed