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DoC is Not Underfunded: Minister

DoC is Not Underfunded: Minister

Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, told Q+A this morning that the Department of Conservation got the budget it required, and denied it was being increasingly underfunded, despite reports from DOC staff that there were not enough of them – and those remaining had to spend time cleaning toilets and other tourism-related tasks rather than core conservation work.

She said funding for the department had gone from $316 millon eight years ago to $380 million currently, while “partnership funding” had also increased.

Ms Barry rejected the idea that the Government was exploiting the ‘feel-good factor’ that corporates and volunteers felt around helping out in DOC parks and walkways.

But she shared concerned about tourism numbers increasing on some of the country’s estates, in particular the Tongariro Crossing, while rejecting the idea of a border tax on tourists to cover conservation costs. We’ve just put a border tax on for biosecurity. There is not much appetite for border taxes to be collected from the likes of Air New Zealand, I suspect, because they don’t see that as their role,” she said. “I think more directly approaching the option of looking at the people who pay. At the moment, for example, a lot of people who go to a DOC campground are paying the princely sum of $6 per night.”

END


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