Tuesday’s DomPost published a brilliant editorial Tuesday taking the Labour government to task for all talk and no action on a national water policy.

In a nutshell, the DomPost argues that:

  • Water quality and prudent allocation are becoming serious issues in NZ.
  • The problem is bigger than regional councils’ will and capacity to manage, necessitating a national policy solution.
  • Intensifying dairying is a major driver of the problem, and bad practices are poorly penalised.
  • Labour has had nine years to develop and implement a policy, but has failed to do so.

AMEN to all of the above!

Here are some key excerpts, but I urge you to read the entire article:

“(Environment Minister Trevor) Mallard wants the worst of the polluting farmers to be jailed. He believes farmers and others who foul rivers, streams and lakes treat fines under the Resource Management Act as just another business expense.

He criticises local authorities for over-allocating groundwater, lecturing them that they have to be smarter and telling them ‘we need guarantees that it is being allocated to provide the highest value’.

He is right, but talk solves nothing. The water issue is a national issue and should be sorted out at a national level.

So far, Mr Mallard and his colleagues have shown little inclination to do that. The Proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management has been rightly criticised as avoiding the hard issues by buck-passing them to regional and local councils in the name of ’empowering innovation and local solutions’ …

Dairying is vital to the country’s economy, but that does not mean that anything goes. Many farmers do the right thing … but too many others do not.As dairying has intensified, the quality of water has declined appallingly.

Mr Mallard may wish to put the blame for that on local government, but their response that the Resource Management Act is not up to the job points to where the blame should truly lie.

What is needed is an agreed national strategy for dealing with water. That is not something that can be achieved overnight, but nor is it something that has only now become apparent.

The Government could have been working on a strategy for the past nine years. That would have been more useful than tough talking on the eve of an election.”

AMEN again!


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1 Comment

  1. Sticking to the water topic of this post, quietly hidden in National's RMA policy launch yesterday was a plan to halt the NPS on freshwater quality, and set up a Scandinavian-type 'collaborative governance' model. It may be useful, but what about the urgent and very real water crisis in the meantime?

    As Green Co-leader Russel Norman said, "National’s proposal to replace the water programme with collaborative governance – a process that may take years – would only help solve our water pollution crisis if accompanied by a moratorium on new discharge consents and water takes in sensitive catchments."

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