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Contradictions over EPA scientist continue

Contradictions over EPA scientist continue

Today’s Environment Select Committee confirmed political interference by the new Government in the managed exit of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Chief Scientist and the attempted subsequent cover-up, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“We were assured in February by the EPA Chief Executive, Dr Allen Freeth, that there had been absolutely no interference from Government regarding the Chief Scientist or the EPA’s role and independence – this is very different to what has been said today in select committee,” Mr Simpson says.

“We know now that Environment Minister David Parker had a discussion with Dr Freeth in late November. Following this, came a detailed, critical letter about the Chief Scientist from the Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment to Dr Freeth. Ministers Sage and Parker were consulted on this letter before it was sent and both Ministers approved this ‘course of action.’

“Subsequent emails from Minister Sage’s office to the EPA in December showed continuing concern.

“We know that the first discussions between Dr Freeth about the Chief Scientist leaving the EPA happened just prior to Christmas – after this interference.

“Today’s developments show that there are serious questions here for the Ministry for the Environment to answer.

“We will be calling for the Chief Executive of Ministry for the Environment to explain to the select committee why she was interfering in the employment of the EPA’s Chief Scientist and what she told Ministers about the organisation of a managed exit.

“The EPA makes hundreds of decisions that impact on New Zealander’s lives and those decisions need to be made on the basis of good, independent science, not politics as is clearly the case here.”

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