It has been a pretty tough year for New Zealand with the Canterbury Earthquake and the Pike River mine tragedy, some families have also really struggled with challenging economic times. At this time I hope we can spare a moment to think of those families but also to be proud of the many New Zealanders that have stepped up to help them.
My focus in 2011 is to continue to help and serve the hundreds of Waiheke constituents that contact me each year for personal help or to change government policy. I hope to also deliver on some more of the local projects that I care about including improving Auckland Council’s waste policy.
Recently I launched a campaign called “ Thrash the Trash – A Smarter Cleaner Auckland”. I feel passionately that Auckland can do better in the area of waste and I know that Waiheke can play a big role in getting Auckland Council to make changes to waste policy.
The current situation whereby rubbish flows freely from storm water drains into the Hauraki Gulf is not acceptable. It’s not conducive to a healthy harbour and it has a lasting impact on the environment. The people who call the Gulf and its surrounding islands, such as Waiheke, home, deserve better.
The sheer volume of waste being produced by our city has become a major environmental threat to our quality of life. The greater Auckland region in 2008 produced nearly 1.4 million tonnes of waste, that’s the equivalent of a rubbish mountain the size of Eden Park stacked about as high as the Sky Tower.
A large fraction of Auckland’s waste is organic and there are estimates this could be turned into about 100,000 tonnes of valuable compost. Using an innovative approach, other valuable resources we currently discard could be used by local businesses to extract value.
The new Auckland Council has signalled its concerns on this issue and I look forward to helping to develop policies that will reduce the city’s waste. I have spoken to the Minister for the Environment about opportunities to support initiatives that result from this campaign via the Waste Minimisation Fund.
One of the new benefits of the new Auckland Council is that we finally have a single regional entity with the rating base and power to be able to address environmental issues to make our city a better place for all.
The campaign will focus on six objectives:
1. Investigate possible financial incentives to reduce waste in Auckland
2. Improve the management of organic waste in Auckland
3. Explore initiatives to reduce plastic at Auckland landfills
4. Investigate initiatives to reduce rubbish flowing from storm water drains into the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
5. Investigate support for businesses involved in waste innovation
6. Identify any other initiatives to clean up Auckland.
The purpose of the campaign is to mobilise Aucklanders who care about having a cleaner city and give them the chance to contribute their ideas to create better central and local government processes to deal with waste. I have written to the Mayor of Auckland to offer my support to work together on waste policies.
Those who want to help the campaign, please go to Thrash the Trash’s community page on www.facebook.com and get involved.
On Waiheke I am constantly being told of stories whereby the island community rallies around people in need, I want to personally thank all those islanders that give so much to the community. I hope everybody on the island has a relaxing holiday season and a safe and happy New Year.
Best wishes for a relaxing holiday season and a safe and happy New Year.
MP for Auckland Central
Address for mail: Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Ph: 04 817 8227