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Retiring commissioner’s practical approach appreciated

Retiring commissioner’s practical approach appreciated by farmers

The practical, clear-headed and science-based approach of the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is one that Federated Farmers commends to her successor.

Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said the organisation thanked Dr Jan Wright for her leadership and hard work over the last decade, and wished her replacement Simon Upton every success as he takes up the reins this week.

"Farmers didn’t always see eye to eye with Dr Wright or her recommendations but on a number of topics we were on the same page, and we certainly appreciated her philosophy that science, evidence and practicality needed to underpin regulations and strategies," Mr Allen said.

"That philosophy was certainly to the fore in her forthright report in 2011 "Evaluating the Use of 1080."

In de-bunking some of the myths about 1080 with the scientific and recorded practical experience facts, her report concluded that while this poison was far from the ideal weapon in the fight against possums, rats and stoats, it was by far the best we have at present - and we should use more of it.

Mr Allen said Dr Wright wisely steered clear of any recommendation that agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme in her report on biological greenhouse gases last year, describing that debate as being "polarised for too long".

She acknowledged that the intensity of livestock greenhouse gas emission has declined by 20% in the last 25 years due to improvements in productivity, and gave thoughtful recommendations on planting larger areas of marginal land in trees as a carbon sink while we wait for scientific breakthroughs on methane inhibitors and vaccines.

In a 2014 speech to the Resource Management Law Association, Dr Wright also said, in effect, it wasn’t possible to fix every environmental concern at once, and resources and targets needed to be prioritised.

"Federated Farmers would agree with that. Our policy on environmental issues is that actions need to be sensible, practical and affordable. Quite a number of Dr Wright’s reports and recommendations had a similar tone.

"We wish Dr Wright all the best for her next ventures and look forward to working with the new Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, Simon Upton."


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