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Politicians fiddle & clean green image slips away

Politicians fiddle while clean green image slips away

Politicians are being challenged to protect New Zealand's clean green image following a NIWA report that reveals that almost all of New Zealand's lowland streams and rivers are unsafe to swim in.

"What state of affairs have we reached when the Waikato Medical Officer of Health is warning New Zealand's children not to swim in most of our lowland streams and rivers?" Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell asked.

"Late last year the Government released a report that revealed New Zealand was also failing to halt the decline of New Zealand's native biodiversity," he said.

"It's incredible that the Government and opposition parties are talking about making quick and dirty development easier when the 'clean green' basis of the economy is already in peril," he said.

"Proposals that have emerged from Government officials in recent weeks would make it much easier to further damage New Zealand's environment in the 'national interest'. Will it take fleeing tourists and collapsing product prices before they realise their mistake," he said.

"The recent Growth and Innovation Board survey showed New Zealanders don't want economic growth to impact on their quality of life or New Zealand's environment. Politicians are largely ignoring this message and its time they were told that's not good enough," he said.

"If politicians were serious about protecting New Zealand's clean green image they would:

* Strengthen, not weaken, New Zealand's environmental legislation * Substantially increase funding to struggling local authorities so that they can administer the RMA properly * Set robust national standards for water quality * Get tough with local and regional authorities that fail to put in place effective resource management plans or who fail to prosecute environmental offenders * Insist on rules in district plans to protect the environment * Strengthen the protection of our native plants and animals through a robust National Policy Statement on Biodiversity

"Instead they are talking about changes to make permission for environmentally damaging major projects easier and quicker, which is exactly what Muldoon's National Development Act sought to achieve," he said.

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