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We Can't Walk On Water

28 January 2004
PR 16/2004

We Can't Walk On Water

The government has sunk to a new low in its attempts to engage in any meaningful consultation on important new laws that affect all New Zealanders, said Tony St. Clair, Chief Executive of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

His comments follow the Ministry of Health giving interested parties just four days to make submissions on a discussion paper ahead of a review of drinking water standards.

The ministry issued a draft preliminary discussion paper in October, but made no mention that it would seek submissions until it issued a media release on January 26. The release said that submissions would close on January 30.

"Farmers obviously have an important role in keeping New Zealand's water relatively clean and ensuring that drinking water is up to standard. But four days does not allow enough time for any meaningful consultation." Mr St. Clair said.

"The government has an unfortunate habit of dumping important law changes around Christmas, when many submitters are away from their desks for the summer holidays. Federated Farmers prides itself on being able to meet these onerous deadlines. But this has to be the worst example we have seen," he said.

Federation staff immediately contacted the ministry to determine if the almost non-existent consultation period was an innocent mistake. But that doesn't appear to be the case.

"Farmers and other New Zealanders want to have their say but are instead being engulfed in a fast-moving wave of new laws, taxes, charges, levies and regulations. We are still committed to Fight Against Ridiculous Taxes, the FART campaign, but perhaps we should launch a second front: Fight Against Ridiculous Consultation," Mr St. Clair said.


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