Water is a both a critical strategic asset and a source of recreation in New Zealand, and we all know it must be abundant, healthy, clean and cost effective. While National encourages the constant improvement of our waterways, the Government’s recent proposals on Freshwater are short-sighted, and will have unintended consequences for our primary sector and wider economy.
These wide-ranging proposals will limit the flexibility of New Zealand farmers to adjust to market conditions and change their land use. The effects of this would be far reaching and could restrict farmers from innovating, which is one of New Zealand’s key advantages. This means that farmers looking to be on the cutting edge of the market and transition to new crops will be hamstrung and unable to make these transitions.
Despite the mounting pressure in the rural world, the Government has failed to even analyse how much these regulations will cost farmers and the wider economy. Once again this Government appears content to treat our farmers like New Zealand’s cash cows with little regard for their wellbeing. This document piles more uncertainty onto the sector.
National established a comprehensive National Policy Statement while in Government and worked alongside our primary sector to clean our waterways, which have been steadily improving, as shown by the Government’s own data from Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA). This analysis of national river quality trends from 2008 to 2017 showed that for eight out of the nine water quality indicators reported on, more monitored sites were improving than degrading.
A large part of this consistent increase in quality is the huge amount of work farmers have already done to improve water quality. Here in Taranaki, we have led the country with 30 years’ riparian planting in conjunction with the Regional Council. More broadly, National signed an accord with the dairy industry that has seen farmers fence off 98 per cent of their waterways, a distance of Auckland to Chicago and back, alongside spending over $1 billion in environmental investment over the last five years. This is a major achievement from our farmers but not a story David Parker wants to tell.
It’s outrageous that the Government seems hell-bent on putting more and more shackles on a sector that produces 60 per cent of our exports and is the backbone of our economy. If we want first world healthcare, transport and education, we have to sell something to the world to afford to buy our first world affluence. This means we should be encouraging sustainable growth for our industry, not stifling it with regulations in the name of political ideology.
Again, National would value your input. Our Primary Sector discussion document is online at https://www.national.org.nz/primary_sector and your comments would be appreciated.
Next Friday, I’m very much looking forward to hosting National’s Police Spokesperson Brett Hudson in Opunake for a lunchtime public meeting at Coastal Care. If you’d like to come along and raise issues of concern, please contact my office on 06 759 1363 or firstname.lastname@example.org