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National out of touch on water quality

National out of touch on water quality

A comprehensive survey of Kiwi's views on farming and the environment released by Fish and Game this morning shows the National Government fails to realise how important water quality is to Kiwis, Labour's Environment spokesperson Moana Mackey says.

"The survey shows that Kiwi's see a clean and green environment as an intrinsic part of who we are with 89 per cent linking their identity to our natural environment. And water quality is key to this identity with nine out of ten adults wanting waterways to be safe for swimming, fishing, and food gathering.

"When it comes to taking responsibility for improving water quality an overwhelming 89 per cent support the view that those who pollute waterways should be made accountable for their restoration, including 88 per cent of National voters, and 72 per cent wanting to see farmers and dairy companies take responsibility for reducing the impact of dairying.

"What the survey does show however is support for the dairy industry, including further growth facilitated by large scale irrigation schemes, but only if it can be proven that downstream waterways will not be adversely affected. Only 12 per cent supported these schemes going ahead with no qualification.

"The single nutrient management model proposed in the Hawkes Bay Ruataniwha scheme does not meet this test and National Ministers should reverse their enthusiastic support for the scheme. It is unacceptable that millions of dollars of taxpayers money is going to subsidise a scheme that will turn the Tukituki river toxic.

"The Ruataniwha scheme is being promoted by the Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Labour agrees with the 62 per cent of respondents who say that regional councils are conflicted by having responsibility for both protecting fresh water quality and promoting large scale irrigation developments.

"The survey also shows support for the Department of Conservation (DoC) showing leadership in advocating for conservation values including water.

"DoCs silence on the Ruataniwha proposal was surprising given they have consistently commented on much less controversial measures in the past. Their decision to not comment on the scheme has meant the advocacy role has fallen to NGOs, iwi and businesses who have access to far fewer resources than the department.

"Labour will restore DoCs advocacy role and guarantee no political interference in its execution of that role.

"This survey is a wakeup call for the National government. If they are not swayed by the economic and environmental reasons for action on water quality then maybe the potential political ramifications of continuing to drag their heels will spur some action,” Moana Mackey says.

Ends

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