Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today told the Environment Select Committee that her key achievement in office is requiring New Zealanders who go tramping to carry power bills to prove to DOC rangers that they are kiwis, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“This is outrageous. New Zealanders have an expectation that they have open access to the great outdoors. Instead, Ms Sage expects when we pack our tramping bags – we will remember to include our latest power bill,” Ms Dowie says.

Ms Sage was also very defensive of her record as Conservation Minister.

“In Opposition, she had all the answers. Today in Government she was keen to attack sound and sensible policies and instead suggest that they be replaced with ideologically driven and unproven ideas.

“Ms Sage was unable to specify her marine priorities, tell us when cameras will be rolled out on commercial fishing vessels or commit to the future of the Game Animal Council. The Minister was not even aware that Winston Peters had pulled New Zealand from signing up to an international Pacific agreement that would protect delicate seabed life and species beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Further, she expressed her opposition to conservation partnerships with third parties and communities. National’s partnership approach secured more than 100 million dollars for conservation initiatives – money Ms Sage is happy to turn her back on as she reverts to a 1980s model of ‘DOC knows best’.

“The Government has found money to double Department of Conservation’s policy staff in Wellington, yet she had no idea how many new rangers she will have to help ensure the eradication of rats, stoats and possums.

“The recently released State of New Zealand Garden Birds report shows that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of native birds spotted in New Zealand gardens, with silvereye, song thrush and starling near disappearing from our back yards. This report clearly illustrates the importance of Predator Free 2050.

“With Ms Sage’s priorities constantly shapeshifting within her Green agenda, who knows what will happen next?”

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