Environment Minister David Parker needs to learn from James Shaw’s recent charm offensive to farmers and stop beating up on them, National’s Environment Spokesperson Scott Simpson says.
“David Parker’s extraordinary announcement that the Coalition Government plans to cap cattle herds in a bid to stem nutrient run-off has done nothing but further cement his reputation has a hard-line idealist who shoots from the hip and enjoys nothing more than beating up on farmers,” Mr Simpson says.
“This approach - which he began with farmers in Ashburton during the election campaign - does nothing to encourage environmental achievement or speed up freshwater quality improvements. All it does is fan the flames of a rural-urban divide.
“James Shaw, on the other hand, has acknowledging the enormous progress already made by our farmers in their environmental stewardship.
“Dairy farmers have spent $1 billion in five years on the likes of fencing and planting around waterways, culverts, bridges and other infrastructure to contain nutrient run-off.
“Could it be that Mr Shaw is becoming a practical environmentalist focused on striking the right balance between strong economic growth and responsible management of our precious environment?
“Where Mr Parker has failed so badly is in not recognising the improvements occurring because of strict regulations set by National, and administered by Regional Councils.
“The recent Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) report shows for all river water quality parameters measured over a ten year period, more waterways are improving than deteriorating.
“This is tangible proof of the progress being made and the hard work of farmers, councils and communities.
“When we came to office there were no National Policy Statements or National Environmental Standards on water quality. We invested a record $400 million in improving water quality and our regulatory framework under the Resource Management Act was on track to meet New Zealander’s aspirations for clean freshwater within a generation.
“It will be a retrograde step for water quality reform if the Government attempts to overregulate an industry that is already working towards improving water quality.
“My message to David Parker is to change his tune, and quickly. Perhaps James Shaw might be able to offer some pointers,” Mr Simpson says.