The Chinese have taken careful note of the environmental practices in New Zealand and as a country we are not measuring up to their standards. Here is what they have to say about our image:
NZ Herald article 6 Aug 2013: 100% Pure ‘festering sore’ – China news sites
By Christopher Adams
China’s state-run news agency has delivered a sharp critique of New Zealand in the wake of Fonterra’s contamination crisis, describing this country’s 100 per cent Pure tourism campaign as a “festering sore” and saying free market ideology resulted in Kiwi homes becoming damp, leaky and uninhabitable.
In an editorial article published on a number of major Chinese news websites overnight, Xinhua says the time has come to ask the New Zealand Government, “Where is the quality control?”
“One could argue the country is hostage to a blinkered devotion to laissez-faire market ideology. Many New Zealanders fell victim to this when the construction industry was deregulated two decades ago resulting in damp and leaky homes that quickly became uninhabitable,” Xinhua said.
“While it’s true the government isn’t responsible for the contamination of Fonterra produce, it should be held accountable for the fact that nothing was done to identify the problem before it was dispatched to export markets and domestic customers.”
The article said Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills came the closest to identifying the problems when he said there was a need for government departments, farmers, exporters and educators to better understand customers in export markets.
Xinhua said: “Too often New Zealand’s government appears to lay siege to perceived trade barriers, battering bluntly away until the doors swing open. And once open, it’s open slather for those who can throw as much produce at the new market as possible.”
The news agency goes on to describe John Key’s defence of the 100 per cent Pure tourism campaign, when in April the Prime Minister compared it to McDonald’s “I’m Loving it” slogan and said it needed to be taken “with a pinch of salt”.
“No, Mr Key, it needs to be fixed before your trading partners just stop loving it,” Xinhua said.
One infant formula industry source told the Herald that the Chinese Government would capitalise on the Fonterra scare as it worked towards rebuilding its domestic infant formula industry, which was decimated by the 2008 melamine scandal that killed six babies and sickened thousands more. “They’ll be loving it because it just plays into their hands doesn’t it? Here they are trying to protect the Chinese infant formula industry and limit New Zealand and this just couldn’t have played out better for them.”
Fonterra revealed on Saturday that a dirty pipe at its Hautapu plant in the Waikato might have contaminated three batches of a whey protein called WPC80 with bacteria that can cause botulism, a potentially fatal illness.
A number of the dairy giant’s customers used WPC80 to make a range of products, including infant formula.
Countries affected include New Zealand, China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
The crisis has raised concerns that this country’s reputation for high quality food – the driving force behind around $3 billion in annual dairy exports to China – may have been irreparably damaged.
This article does not surprise us one bit, as we have for years wondered what the policies in this country were on taking care of the environment.
Why do we question these policies?
The following examples show that it is not only at government and big business level that greed, i.e. not spending money if you can avoid it, occurs, but at all levels.
A few years back one of our neighbours decided to sell his farm. Time to retire or do something else. The farm was sold and before he moved, there was the issue of the ‘rubbish’ paddock. As on most farms here there is an area set aside where old or broken down machinery, tractors and cars finish up. Well, our neighbour had one of those as well.
To our surprise one morning a digger appeared and started to dig next to the rubbish a huge hole. The hole was deeper than the digger tall. Next thing we noticed that the digger and the farmer with his tractor were pushing all the ‘rubbish’ into the hole. Once this had been done the digger proceeded to push the removed earth back into the hole, covering up all the items in it. Now the cows of the new owner happily (?) graze regularly in this paddock.
Where does the oil, grease, chemicals, rust components, etc. of the old cars, tractors and other machinery finish up? My guess is in the underground water reservoir. And all this so he could save the price for responsible disposal.
Our local council has been for the last few years campaigning to replace old wood burners with cleaner forms of heat. This is to create cleaner air to breathe and to reduce the chance of dioxin pollution. New by-laws have come into being and quite a few people had to replace their wood burners at great expense.
A very good initiative until you see the farmer next door light up his rubbish pile and you see big black, greasy clouds of smoke billowing up. We have had instances that we had to breathe for more than a week that smoke from our neighbour’s rubbish heap. Such an enjoyable experience, so good for your health!
And this happens with regularity all year round. A wonderful sight for the many tourists who come to Golden Bay in search of clean air. The amount of smoke coming from one such a fire counteracts numerous regular wood burners. But at least the farmer does not need to bring his rubbish to the council refuse station and thus saves a lot of money.
So, is New Zealand green and clean? No, we don’t think so. And it is not just the government that has this “she’ll be right” attitude; it seems to be systemic right through the country. Unfortunately, those groups that try to improve the care for the environment only too often get pictured as hippies, who have no sense of the real world.
I sincerely hope that this Fonterra debacle will wake up enough of our trading partners and that through lack of business deals this government and some of the big businesses finally realise that they have to make some changes. Ethical business practices and looking after the environment may gain us once again the credibility, that we so sadly have lost.
In the long run the environment is much more important than short-term profits now.