Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


DOC's draft report was just that

DOC's draft report was just that

Bruce Wills is Federated Farmers President and a version of this was printed in Bruce Wills’ regular Manawatu Standard column on 24 September

As a Board Member of the World Farmers Organisation, I was recently asked to speak at World Water Week in Stockholm.  Before farmers assail me about extravagant spending, it is one of the rare occasions where the United Nations covered my travel costs.  Disproving the vision of extravagance some have about the UN, my flight home was on Jetstar.

Yet it was an amazing experience being at such a huge international conference and speaking about water from the perspective of global farming.  I was among some 2,700 delegates but according to the World Farmers Organisation’s, Marco De Marinis, I was the only farmer present.  It was eye opening to see and hear what is going on around the world so it was a shame no New Zealand media were there, despite water being a big discussion point here.  It was also with a degree of relief that New Zealand is seen to be a leader by the international community.  It opened my eyes to learn that 800 million people around the world have no access to basic sanitation.

In contrast, our bathing quality scores are a tool to assess risk. If you swim at a ‘very good' spot, you face a one percent chance of coming down with a skin infection and a lesser chance of a tummy bug. Swim at a ‘very poor' site and your risks increase to five percent for a skin infection and roughly half that for a tummy bug. 

Here, the margins between very good and very poor aren’t huge but they are infinitely better than in many other countries.  When I returned to New Zealand I gave thanks for how blessed we are because our rivers aren’t fetid toxic soups.  Perhaps some need to travel more, but generally speaking, it rains here, that rain feeds grass and then we convert that grass into food and fibre we then export

We also know the wider effects of this year’s drought from the trade deficit for the June quarter, which saw a near half-billion dollar fall in dairy and meat exports.

One obvious solution to a lack of water over summer is to store rainfall.  The Hawke’s Bay, where I farm, averages over 800mm of rain each year but is still prone to drought.  The region has been in the news given discussion over a draft Department of Conservation (DoC) report on the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

I am nervous about treating a draft written by a nameless DoC staff member as if it was the final product.  Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson, perhaps put things the best saying, “I would have thought our politicians would have learned from the recent C. botulinum scare that the only report which counts is the final one”.

As the President of Federated Farmers I read many draft reports and submissions.  These come to me after undergoing our policy team’s own internal quality control and there are very few I express unease about.  That there is the occasional one, simply underlines the nature of what ‘draft’ means and having the steps in place to catch them. 

As a Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer I know a fair bit about what Ruataniwha could mean economically and environmentally.

If we truly want to stop the Tukituki from “running green,” as one florid piece of media reporting went, then backing district council upgrades of wastewater plants is the obvious place to start.  The Section 32 report on Ruataniwha says that up to 70 percent of phosphorous (P) loading at times of low flow in the Tukituki comes from the four wastewater treatment ponds servicing the towns of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Takapau.

So what reports should we be discussing?  Can I suggest Googling the mountain of information now available from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s website, or, as evidence submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Why are we treating a draft DoC report more seriously than say the evidence of NIWA or Aquanet Consulting you can read right now?  I would also encourage doubters to Google Canterbury’s Opuha Dam because it defied the knockers by exceeding all environmental and economic expectations. 

Boosting Ruataniwha are TrustPower and Ngāi Tahu putting pen to paper to potentially fund up to 40 percent of the scheme’s capital cost.  That tells me TrustPower and Ngāi Tahu, like many farmers, see huge opportunity in Ruataniwha and water storage in general.  Given farmers are being told that the climate is changing, Ruataniwha seems vital infrastructure in that regard.  Unless dam opponents now say the climate isn’t changing.

Instead of talking about what a DoC report may have said about Ruataniwha, we need to focus on the mountain of easily accessible reports anyone can read for themselves. 

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Parliament Kicks Off: Carter Re-Elected Speaker

The 51st Parliament held its commission opening today with MPs sworn in and David Carter elected Speaker.

The day began at 11am with the three Royal Commissioners – the Chief Justice, the Court of Appeal President, and the Chief High Court Judge – declaring the new Parliament open.

After the Commissioners left the Chamber the swearing in of MPs took place in alphabetical order. Unlike some previous openings all MPs managed to swear on the bible or affirm their oath without any hiccups... More>>

 

Labour: Review Team Named, Leadership Campaign Starts

Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban.

ALSO:


Roy Morgan Poll: National Slips, Labour Hits Lows

The first New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll since the NZ Election shows National 43.5% (down 3.54% since the September 20 Election). This isn’t unusual, National support has dropped after each of John Key’s Election victories... However, support for the main opposition Labour Party has crashed to 22.5% (down 2.63% and the lowest support for Labour since the 1914 NZ Election as United Labour). More>>

ALSO:

In On First Round: New Zealand Wins Security Council Seat

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed New Zealand securing a place on the United Nations Security Council for the 2015-16 term. More>>

ALSO:

TPP Leak: Intellectual Property Text Confirms Risk - Jane Kelsey

The US is continuing its assault on generic medicines through numerous proposed changes to patent laws. ‘These are bound to impact on Pharmac if they are accepted’, according to Professor Kelsey... Copyright is another area of ongoing sensitivity... More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith Plans Reform To Ease Urban Development

Newly appointed Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced Resource Management Act reform to foster urban development, where high land prices and expensive resource consents are blocking efforts to provide affordable housing. More>>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On New Zealand getting involved (again) in other people's wars

Apparently, the Key government is still pondering how New Zealand will contribute to the fight against Islamic State. Long may it ponder, given the lack of consensus among our allies as to how to fight IS, where to fight it (Syria, Iraq, or both?) and with whose ground troops, pray tell? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On child poverty, and David Shearer’s latest outburst

The politicisation of (a) the public service and (b) the operations of the Official Information Act have been highlighted by the policy advice package on child poverty that RNZ’s resolute political editor Brent Edwards has finally prised out of the Ministry of Social Development. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On the government’s review of security laws

So the Key government is about to launch a four week review of the ability of our existing legislation to deal with “suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters, and other violent extremists.”

According to its terms of reference, the review will consider whether the SIS, GCSB and Police are sufficiently able right now to (a) investigate and monitor suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters… More>>

ALSO:

Labour Davids: Lisa Owen Interviews David Shearer

David Shearer still mulling whether to stand for Labour leadership but says his family doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Declares that it will be “incredibly divisive” for the Labour caucus if David Cunliffe returns to the role of leader. More>>

ALSO:

Taser Use & False Evidence: Timaru Officers "Failed To Follow Good Policing Practice"

The Authority found that even if Mr Reuben’s contact with the officer was deliberate it amounted to only a minor assault. While it found the use of the OC spray was justified, the use of the Taser was not a proportionate response... More>>

ALSO:

Little Surprise: Andrew Little To Contest Labour Leadership

I have decided to contest the Labour Party leadership. There are three immediate issues to deal with: creating greater cohesion across the caucus, rebuilding the relationship between caucus and the Party and, most importantly getting the process under way to listen to the voters who have abandoned us... More>>

ALSO:

Two Fewer Votes In Recount: "Positive Result" - Harawira

When I applied for a recount of the votes from the Tai Tokerau election, I made it clear that this application was not aimed at overturning the election result, but ensuring that all votes cast by Maori were treated with due respect, regardless of whether those votes are for Labour, Maori Party or MANA. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news