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Chapter 13 - Public still in the dark

13 February 2008

Chapter 13 - Public still in the dark

Trevor Mallard's strident - yet nonsensical - statements in the House this afternoon have left the Green Party with more questions than answers.

Mr Mallard told the media on Monday that Chapter 13 of the State of the Environment report was dumped because it made a series of conclusions that were not supported by the facts.

"Naturally, The Greens were very interested to hear which conclusions he identified," Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The question we put to the Minister for the Environment in the House was a simple one.

"Does he agree with Chapter 13, dumped from the State of the Environment report, that "significant intensification of land use, particularly pastoral land use" is "arguably the largest pressure today on New Zealand's land, freshwaters and coastal oceans, and atmosphere"; if not, what does he believe is the largest pressure on New Zealand's land, freshwaters and coastal oceans, and atmosphere?"

"Mr Mallard was quick to point out that both he and his officials have spoken at length about "the damning facts...which clearly show this is the case." He also pointed me to his own comments in the foreword of the report, "highlighting the decline in water quality in New Zealand as a consequence of the increasing intensity of agricultural production."

"When asked to explain which of the conclusions were so unsupported by the facts as to justify slashing the final chapter, Mr Mallard answered, "That is the very area, because it is forward looking, rather than backward looking, as the report is, that was outside the scope and actually not matched by the facts in the report."

"Pressed even further, he confirmed that, "It's the conclusion that the member was referring to in her question." So, the Minister is saying both that the statement in my questions is what he has been saying all along, but also that it is a conclusion not supported by the facts.

"The Government has had all day to come up with a straight answer. They damned Chapter 13 as containing comments that were not backed up by facts. Then they damned it because the conclusions that it draws are apparently already repeated throughout the report.

"It's obvious that Mr Mallard is walking an incredibly fine line, desperately trying to avoid angering the farming lobby. The pressure is telling, as his answers in the house today were utterly nonsensical.

"All of this gobble-de-gook, evasion and confusion can only lead people to the conclusion that the real reason the report was dropped was political," Ms Fitzsimons says.


ENDS

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