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The proposals in the Government’s Freshwater Discussion Document released today are short-sighted and will severely limit our most profitable sector, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“While we encourage the constant improvement of our waterways, many of the changes proposed will have perverse effects on our primary sector and the wider economy.

“Despite David Parker making freshwater a key part of his election campaign, it’s taken two years to finally see some proposals.

“The Essential Freshwater 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.

“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.

“National established a comprehensive National Policy Statement whilst 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 is a major achievement of our farmers but not a story David Parker wants to tell.

“The primary sector has already taken responsibility for water with dairy farmers fencing off over 98 per cent of waterways and spending over $1 billion in environmental investment over the last five years. National applauds these efforts while acknowledging there must be more done.

“This document will only add to farmers’ and growers’ uncertainty as there is still no clarity as to what might be coming down the pipeline for them. And further tinkering with the RMA will do nothing for public or business confidence.

“The Government is taking a complex issue that requires a measured, science-based approach and is instead proposing we hamstring our most profitable sector, which accounts for 60 per cent of our exports. We all want improved water quality but this drastic action will smash the economic engine of our country.”

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