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Polluters’ water paper “Plan for Inaction"

Greens call polluters’ water paper “Plan for Inaction”

Green Media Release 9th June 2008

A document subtitled “Plan for Action” and issued by water polluters and their supporters today would be better headed “Plan for Inaction”, according to the Green Party.

“This is proof that vested interests have hijacked a government process aimed at cleaning up New Zealand's water resources,” Party Co-Leader Russel Norman said.

The document was of little value as a blueprint for cleaning up ground water, rivers and lakes because it pandered too much to the status quo and to polluters. For example the document was designed to identify only a few “priority catchments” each year where landholders would have a major say as to how, when, why or if they would be cleaned.

“What about the rest of our rivers and lakes or those where the landowners don’t want to clean them up?

“A cabinet paper back in 2004 wanted community involvement and to achieve that the Environment Ministry (MfE) has been consulting iwi, environmental groups and ordinary people,” Dr Norman said. “In June 2004, MfE listed official Water Programme of Action Stakeholder Reference Group members as including Royal Forest and Bird, fishing and rafting groups and scientists.

“This new parallel semi-official body, which is partly funded and supported by the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry (MAF) and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, doesn’t include such stakeholders, and panders to polluters, not the public.”

The glossy document “Primary Sector Water Partnership Leadership Document, Summary of the Plan for Action” has been prepared by a “partnership group” of Fonterra, Dairy NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Meat and Wool NZ, NZ Forest Owners Association, NZ Farm Forestry Association, Irrigation NZ, Fertiliser Manufacturers Research Association and Federated Farmers.

“Of course these groups should be involved in government moves to clean up our rivers and lakes and some members of these organisations are deeply sincere and committed to doing so,” Dr Norman said.

“But Mr Anderton needs to come clean himself and tell us how many meetings he’s had with ordinary families who live alongside these rivers, and who can no longer drink from them or swim in them.

"This is a classic `Yes Minister' stalling tactic where the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry (MAF) is trumping the Environment Ministry (MFE). The Government promised a Sustainable Water Programme of Action in 2003 and we are still waiting for it. Now we know part of the reason why – because MAF are working on a parallel process in which polluters can opt in to voluntary measures rather than MfE introducing regulations to clean up our waterways.

“Once again, good farmers who do the right thing are being let down by the government failure to introduce common water quality standards for all waterways and all farmers.”


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