New Zealand Herald, 9 June 2009

Privately-owned New Zealand businesses score poorly compared to overseas counterparts in their willingness to spend money on environmentally-friendly practices that hurt the bottom line.

New Zealand businesses ranked 34th out of 36 economies surveyed, just below Russia, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report.

Only 35 per cent of businesses said they would introduce environmentally friendly practices if they were to have a negative impact on the bottom line, Grant Thornton New Zealand said today.

Another 53 per cent said they would not introduce such practices and 13 per cent did not know.

In contrast, in Australia 55 per cent of businesses surveyed said they would introduce the environmentally friendly practices, while 36 per cent said no and 9 per cent did not know.

That put Australia in 15th place on the global league table.

Grant Thornton New Zealand spokesman Peter Sherwin said the result made this country’s environmental image somewhat fragile, although the major exporters might have a different stance to smaller companies.

“What this result is reflecting is the view of the average medium-sized New Zealand business as against the corporates. It is the sort of pragmatism that privately-held companies tend to adopt,” he said.

“It could be said to be something of a reality check. This is middle New Zealand talking.”

It could also reinforce the Government’s more cautious approach to embracing climate-change actions and financial imposts, Mr Sherwin said.

When asked how environmentally-friendly the respondents considered the business community in this country to be, the New Zealand businesses registered a positive balance of 34 per cent.

That was equal with Brazil in 17th place, although still down on Australia, which had a positive balance of 45 per cent and was in 12th place.

That could possibly validate the feeling that the wider business community thought big exporters or corporates were doing their bit to be environmentally friendly, Mr Sherwin said.

That was even if the medium-sized businesses themselves were not keen on such practices because of the potential to damage profits.

In New Zealand 150 medium-sized businesses, each employing between 10 and 150 people, are surveyed for the Grant Thornton report.

– NZPA

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