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2024 Budget cuts to reduce Aotearoa’s environmental protections

20th June, 2024

Interview by Sofia Roger Williams, adapted by Ashley-Rose Redstone

Executive Director of Greenpeace Aotearoa, Dr. Russel Norman, says that the government’s latest initiatives towards the environmental sector are a part of the coalition government’s “extreme anti-environment agenda”.

Among the initiatives announced in the Budget 2024 were funding cuts to government bodies in Aotearoa’s environmental sector such as the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Environment, Environmental Legal Aid, and the Climate Change Commission. 

Executive Director of Greenpeace Aotearoa, Dr. Russel Norman, told 95bFM’s The Wire that cuts to the sector would reduce Aotearoa’s capacity to protect the environment. 

“What you're seeing across the board is that parts of government bureaucracy, which have a responsibility to defend nature, have been systematically capped so that they can’t do that.”

Norman explained that agencies such as the Department of Conservation would not be able to operate at full capacity without adequate funding, that even inexpensive departments such as Environmental Legal Aid, which require less than $1 million a year to function, have been completely removed from the budget.

“The more that you cap these agencies, the more they're forced to make difficult decisions between delivering recreation services and the conservation of state, to protecting the conservation state itself.”

“What we're calling for is for the government to stop systematic attacks on nature by undermining environmental protections.”

Norman explained that the announcement of legislation, such as the Fast Track Approvals bill, undermines the protection of Aotearoa’s natural landscape by permitting an “override” of regulations and launching projects with a potential harmful impact.

“We have a government which is engaged in a series of attacks on nature. The Fast Track bill is one part of that.”

On Saturday, the 8th of June, Greenpeace led the ‘March for Nature’ through Auckland’s CBD to protest the Fast-Track Bill and cuts to the environmental sector, which Norman says represents a kaupapa of New Zealanders to protect the natural landscape of Aotearoa.

“They're assuming that New Zealanders will just sit by and let this happen. If you don't want nature in this country to be destroyed by this government, then you need to get up and use your voice.”

“Many people voted for a change of government, but they never expected a war on nature. We have to stand up for nature, for ourselves, for our kids, and for the planet itself.”

Listen to the full interview