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Internet Party Wades in to Fix Sick Waterways

MEDIA RELEASE

July 10, 2014

Internet Party Wades in to Fix Sick Waterways

New Zealand’s waterways will be cleaned up and much higher standards set on water quality in a 10-year plan to be introduced by the Internet Party by 2016.

“Our waterways are in a dire state,” said Internet Party leader Laila Harré. “Action must be taken now at central government level before the problem gets so bad it can’t be fixed.”

Current approaches were having little effect on protecting or restoring water quality, with “bottom lines” on standards set so low as to be worse than useless.

As part of its environment policy, the Internet Party will initiate a public review of what is being done to protect the country’s rivers and lakes. Conducted by the Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the review will lead to a national 10-year Water Quality Plan to come into effect by 2016 aimed at resolving issues linked to agriculture and industry midway through the next decade.

“When 60 per cent of our country’s rivers are now rated unsafe for swimming it’s clear the alarm bells have been ringing for a long time,” said Ms Harré. “Unfortunately the agencies that are supposed to be sorting the problem out have been sitting on their hands.”

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 announced on July 4, which is supposed to lift the performance of the country's 16 regional councils in combating water pollution, was worth little more than the paper it was written on.

“It’s all talk, no action,” said Ms Harré. “The standards set out are so timid as to be virtually useless. We will set standards much higher and ensure local councils and other agencies responsible for our waterways are held more accountable for reaching and maintaining those standards.”

Claims that tougher water quality standards would badly impact the agriculture sector in particular ignored what was at stake for the country.

“Our lakes and rivers are a national resource that belong to all of us – not just farmers,” said Ms Harré. “Of course we recognise the importance of agriculture but allowing uncontrolled growth at the expense of the environment will cost the entire country.

“This isn’t a time for tradeoffs – we have to get this problem sorted first and foremost and then look how to balance economic growth in a way that’s sustainable.

“Unless we set tougher standards now our precious water will continue to literally go down the toilet.”

ENDS


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