Statistics New Zealand today released the latest GDP figures, showing a 2.2 per cent quarterly increase in economic activity.
"The fact that economic activity has increased in the December quarter by 2.2 per cent tells us absolutely nothing about whether that growth relies on a headlong rush to consume our natural resources or whether it is environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial," said Mr Donald.
"GDP doesn't distinguish between activities that add to well-being, and those that detract from it, such as car accidents and pollution clean-ups. GDP also ignores unpaid work such as voluntary work and childcare."
Mr Donald said the recent case of the SeaFresh, a NZ trawler which sank off the Chatham Islands, illustrated the distorted picture that was provided by looking at GDP figures on their own.
"On top of the cost of dealing with the potentially disastrous oil spill, it may cost up to $1.5 million to tow the trawler away from the Chatham Islands, to avoid possible colonisation of the coastline by the invasive Asian seaweed undaria. All of that clean-up money will be included as part of "economic growth" in the next quarterly GDP figures.
"However the disastrous environmental impacts of a major oil spill from the trawler or an undaria colonisation would not be reported in the national accounts under our current accounting system."
"Similarly the cost of checking for snakes and other invasive pests is currently treated as a positive for GDP purposes, whereas in reality it is an economic cost, and an even bigger threat to our biosecurity," said Mr Donald.
In addition to a modified set of national accounts, the Green Party would like the Government to adopt a parallel set of natural resource accounts and social indicators.
Rod Donald MP: 03 366 3292
Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289
©Copyright 2000 The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand