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PQ 9. Fishing, Recreational—Minister’s Statements

9. Fishing, Recreational—Minister’s Statements

[Sitting date: 29 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

9. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister of Conservation : Does he stand by his statement that “the Government needs to take a broader perspective than just Fish and Game’s advocacy for their recreational fishing”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): Yes.

Eugenie Sage : Is the Minister concerned that the Department of Conservation has reduced by more than two-thirds the number of Resource Management Act plans and consent applications it has submitted on in the last 3 years, leaving Fish and Game and community organisations to stand up for our rivers?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : No, I am not concerned, because I hold a strong view that you make best progress on issues like freshwater quality through collaborative processes, rather than conflict, which is the approach that the Greens seem to thrive on.

Eugenie Sage : Can the Minister confirm to the House that he has not initiated any work to weaken the powers and ability of Fish and Game councils to advocate for the protection of sports fish and game habitats, including clean water in our rivers and lakes?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : Yes, I can. I think actions speak louder than words. After the council meeting that has caused some controversy, the weekend before last, I approved a modest increase in Fish and Game’s licence fees. This was before the controversy arose. It will actually increase the funding that Fish and Game has this year by about $330,000 a year, and that is why there are these sorts of conspiracy theories around me trying to stop its role. My advice to Fish and Game was that it needs to focus on being pro - freshwater quality and not anti-dairy and anti-farming.

Eugenie Sage : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a straight question, asking whether he could confirm whether he has initiated any—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! And the very first word given in the answer was “yes”.

Eugenie Sage : Will the Minister apologise to Fish and Game for giving the impression that if Fish and Game councils did not pull back on their advocacy for clean and healthy rivers he would consider removing or weakening the organisation’s statutory powers, or was that his intent?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : No, but I do find it interesting that the key protagonist, Mr David Haynes, immediately after the meeting wrote a blog. I will quote the blog: “Smith delivered his opinions and thoughts as professionally as ever,”. That is what Mr Haynes said. This is the same Mr Haynes who a week later said that I was bullying and threatening. Well, being bullying and threatening is not being professional. That is, Mr Haynes could not have been telling the truth both times.

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