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Huge Outdoor Voting Bloc Slept Through Election

Huge Outdoor Voting Bloc Slept Through Election

The outdoor recreation public missed a grand opportunity in the recent general election to gain greater respect by the incoming government for the environment and recreation. Andi Cockroft, co-chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) said the reason was the public at large was afflicted with apathy.

"Should a government dictate to the public or should the people tell the government what to do?” he asked. “Election time is when the public can do the demanding."

Political indifference or as it’s called apathy, seemed to have become common since 1984 when a new breed of arrogant politicians emerged led by neb-liberals Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble.

“Since then arrogance has become the norm for politicians,” said Andi Cockroft.

However the public can deal to arrogant politicians and deceitful governments at election time - if there is a will.

“Recent general elections has had a million New Zealanders not vote or just too disinterested to register as voters. Those one million are selfish and short-sighted. They do not care about tomorrow and the legacy they leave to their children and grandchildren." he said.

Yet the outdoor recreation sector who were by and large strong environmentalists, had great potential to be a big, very effective voting bloc. Estimates have put outdoor recreational participants as towards a million.

New Zealand was at a crisis stage environmentally. Rivers were a prime case and are due for more degradation given the last government’s preoccupation with increasing dairying and its associated subsidised irrigation. Chief target would be rivers both flowing and underground - the latter known as the aquifer - in order to increase the corporate style dairy farms.

Water from the aquifer will usually deplete “above the ground” water flows i.e. rivers and streams. The last government moved to gut the RMA and take away the democratic voice for the public in regions over RMA and 1080 issues.

"It is ironic the Environment Minister Nick Smith is in the front line to gut the RMA, at the expense of the environment. His advocacy has made a mockery of the portfolio Minister for the Environment,” said Andi Cockroft.

But who is going to challenge the government or Nick Smith? Not the public it seems. National was cock-of-the-hoop on 2017 election night. Nick Smith not liked by the electorate at large because of his abrasive, bullying manner and actions was returned by Nelson with his big majority hardly tarnished. Fish and Game NZ could have but seemed mesmerised by government said Andi Cockroft. Nick Smith’s tirade in 2014 when he was Minister of Conservation, allegedly threatening to tighten the hand screws on the organisation. Fish and Game out of duty to its license holders should have stood up to Smith at election 2017 and advocated strongly.

"Of course Fish and Game is by its Act, duty bound to the Minister of Conservation. Fish and Game were naive when the Act was framed to allow that stranglehold."

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Assns., of New Zealand (CORANZ) produced an election charter comprising 17 key questions relating o the environment and outdoor recreation threats. National did not respond. After deadline a reminder was sent and still the response was nil.

"I can only assume they have no respect for your rivers, your forest parks, your coastal fishing and for ownership of the countryside,” said Andi Cockroft.

Sadly National’s policies involve depleting and dirtying rivers, aerially spreading eco-toxins on public lands, letting foreign corporate mineral and oil companies drill the public’s parks, allowing corporate fishing companies to overfish stocks and to continue to rubber-stamp foreigners wanting ‘bunkers’ in NZ in case of nuclear holocausts in the Northern Hemisphere.

"The answer comes back to the indifference and that the average fisher and hunter just does not care about tomorrow. It is selfishness in the extreme. One day your son or grandson might ask a question, as to why. Will the conscience of the hundreds and thousands of outdoor recreationalists will be clear in answering?” said Andi Cockroft.

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