The National Party appears to show no concern nor conscience about the deterioration in New Zealand’s water resource and the public’s lakes, rivers and streams says a nationwide trout and rivers advocacy.
Dr Peter Trolove, president of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers said the previous National-led government (2008-2017) policies and legislation passed during its terms in government were major factors in the continued decline in New Zealand’s freshwater resource.
“The most recent National Party leader Judith Collins revealed her ignorance of the urgent need for new freshwater regulations,” he said.
Peter Trolove said Labour was not entirely blameless either.
“Like the Labour Government before 2008 which included Minsters Hobbs, Benson-Pope and Trevor Mallard, the previous National Government put short term policies ahead of environmental protection and public health,” he said. “However the John Key government’s single focus on increasing GDP at the expense of the environment has left a costly and toxic legacy of freshwater pollution that most New Zealanders find unacceptable.”
The ECan Act 2010
The constitutionally repugnant Environment Canterbury (Temporary commissioners and improved water management) Act (2010) exemplified National’s cavalier attitude to democratic process and the environment.
The Ecan Act, passed under urgency, stripped Cantabrians of their right to access the Environment Court and of their right to elect their own regional government. Instead Government appointed commissioners who fast tracked massive irrigation development aided by the ECan Act thereby removing protections afforded to Canterbury’s iconic braided rivers by its (National) Water Conservations Orders.
“With indecent haste the Central Plains Water and other irrigation schemes were developed with millions of dollars of subsidy from Central and Local Government transforming tens of thousands of hectares of light vulnerable soils into intensive irrigated dairy platforms”.
This development was fast tracked in the full knowledge that there were no means or regulations in place to manage the water pollution that was certain to occur.
By the end of 2018, intermittent lowland rivers in canterbury’s Selwyn Water Zone were already showing toxic levels of nitrate pollution, the presence of toxic algae resulting from nutrient enrichment, and pathogenic bacteria from cattle faeces. This pattern was and is beings repeated across lowland Canterbury said Peter Trolove.
“Canterbury now has the highest GDP and worst water pollution of any region in New Zealand thanks largely to ill-advised National Government policy,’ he added.
The current coalition government was elected largely on a freshwater platform and Ministers David Parker and Damien O’Connor had made some attempt to honour their promise “not to kick the (freshwater) can down the road for future generations”.
“However the “Action Plan for Freshwater” to be implemented 3 September 2020 is a political compromise in the face of intensive agricultural lobbying. Once again science has been trumped by political expediency. Nevertheless these reforms are a welcome step in the right direction,” he said.