Watch: Simon Bridges says Government's plastic bag ban is a distraction and won't make any difference

Simon Bridges has called the Government's plastic bag ban a "distraction" and says it won't make any difference.

His comments came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today announced the move to phase out the bags over the next year, with a six month phase-out period proposed.

Speaking outside Massey University in Palmerston North today, the National Party leader gave his thoughts on the announcement.

"I don't think the plastic bag ban is going to make any difference, supermarkets and consumers were moving toward doing the right thing anyway.

"Ultimately, it's a big distraction from the issue the Prime Minister must be focusing on at the moment which is a business confidence crisis that will have a real impact on New Zealanders jobs and household spending," Mr Bridges said.

The Government's move comes after a petition with 65,000 signatures called for a ban on the single-use bags.

The Prime Minister made the announcement today in Auckland to phase out plastic bags over the next year. Source: 1 NEWS

The public are able to give their views on the change until September 14, which includes options when the complete phase-out date should be and retailers that should be exempt.  


 

Mr Bridges thinks that falling business confidence should be the Government's sole focus right now. Source: 1 NEWS

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Renowned Indian activist dies after 15-week hunger strike against government inaction to clean up Ganges River

One of India’s most prominent environmental activists has died after more than 15 weeks of a hunger strike to protest against government inaction on cleaning up the Ganges River.

86-year-old GD Agarwal prompted an outpouring of grief and tributes from activists.

“His demise has shut one of the leading voices of criticism of the government on the Ganga pollution," Environmentalist Rakesh Jaiswal told Reuters.

“He was one of the most important figures in this fight.”

The Ganges is India’s largest river system and one of its most polluted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with a pledge to clean up the river that’s 2,500 kilometres long and used for water by 400 million people, but a flagship five-year project he launched in 2015 fell flat, critics say.

Agarwal who held a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of California in Berkeley, began his fast on June 22 in the northern Haridwar city.

When he started, he demanded a law to protect the river and the scrapping of construction of hydroelectric projects along its banks that have destroyed its natural flow.

In a letter to Mr Modi in August, he threatened to fast unto death unless action was taken.

Mr Modi said on Twitter he was "saddened" by Mr Agarwal's death.

"His passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning, will always be remembered. My condolences," he said.

The Ganges is India’s largest river system and one of its most polluted. Source: istock


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Lotto winner gets $11 million - Second time Powerball struck in less than a month

$11 million is not a bad pay check and on Saturday night a lucky Auckland Powerball player got just that.

The winning ticket was sold at New World Albany in Auckland. The prize money was made up of $10 million from Powerball First Division and $1 million from Lotto First Division.

This is the second time that Powerball has been struck in less than a month, with two lucky players from Hastings and Christchurch sharing a $5 million Powerball jackpot in mid-September.

Meanwhile, in the Bullseye Must Be Won Draw, the $400,000 jackpot rolled down to Division Two and was shared by two players who each take home $210,001.

The winning tickets were sold at Halswell New World in Christchurch and Westport New World in Westport.

The winning $7.2 million Lotto Powerball ticket. Source: Supplied

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West Auckland church using movie theatre for services

While the big screen is usually reserved for tales from Hollywood, one West Auckland church is using their newfound home at the cinemas to also retell stories from the Bible.

Members of the City Impact Church West branch now regularly attend their Sunday morning and afternoon services at a local theatre in West Auckland.

Families come in to the Westgate Event Cinemas, in Massey, treating themselves to movie snacks such as popcorn and ice-creams while listening to the pastors speak.

Pastor Joe Manase told the New Zealand Herald the unconventional idea makes sense.

"We’d heard that there are churches around the world that started to use cinemas and we thought: You know what? They’ll have comfy seats, the best air conditioning, the greatest screen and the best surround-sound system.

"There are people lining up to come to church and people lining up to buy tickets to Avengers at the same time."

City Impact use two rooms, one for main church and one specifically for children’s worship but there are also moves to hire out a third theatre by next year for their youth group.

Kirsty Bourke of the Hawera Cinema says restaurants and clubs have had dress codes for years and no one complained.
Source: 1 NEWS


North Canterbury thermal pools masters art of turning methane gas from thermal water into electricity

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools have achieved a New Zealand first - by converting waste product into power.

After years of trial and error, the North Canterbury pools have now mastered turning methane gas from the thermal water into electricity.

Hamner Springs operations manager Neil Wilson said, "It is a waste and we were continually getting asked what it was and why we were doing it and why we weren't using it".

The machine, operated by a cell phone app. is the result of 11 years of work and a $300,000 investment.

Mr Wilson said the contraption, which has a "turbine and capacitors and stuff that control the power", turns the methane from a deep thermal water bore that supplies the hot pools into electricity.

"It's pretty exciting, yeah - pretty special. Hopefully, some other people will follow suit," he said.

The generator stops 100,000 cubic metres of methane or greenhouse gas form being pumped into the atmosphere, which accounts for 15 per cent of the thermal pools's electricity use.

Worth around $35,000, the electricity is the equivalent of how much 43 average Kiwi homes would use.

"[It's] really cool that we're a tiny authority. We're a tiny operation on a world scale but to be leading this technology is really special."

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), which helped the pools secure the world's smallest petroleum mining permit for the project, believes the innovation could be applied elsewhere.

The ECCA's Eddie Christian said it could be used "in the agriculture sector, for example, on large scale dairy or other large methane users".

Mr Wilson said they’re happy to share their discovery, saying, "Anyone’s more than welcome to come and have a look at what we've done here".

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools have achieved a New Zealand first converting waste product into power. Source: 1 NEWS