Not one, but two, chief executives will reappear at a Select Committee this week to correct the record following inconsistencies exposed by National MPs, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.
“In the same week as Radio New Zealand’s CEO and chair are being recalled to correct the record regarding the Carol Hirschfeld-Clare Curran saga, the chief executive of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will reappear to answer a number of questions around contradictory evidence given to the Environment Select Committee in February,” Mr Simpson says.
“At his last select committee appearance on 15 February, chief executive Dr Allan Freeth assured us there had been no discussion, questions or issues with the Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage, over the Chief Scientist or over the EPA’s role, independence or expression of views.
“He said this despite Eugenie Sage later stating publicly that she had actually met with the EPA on the issue, and the paper record shows she sent emails to the EPA that were critical of the Chief Scientist.
“We also know that this issue was discussed at the first meeting between Eugenie Sage and the Dr Freeth in late November. The Chief Scientist resigned in February.
“If the EPA is to be an effective environmental watchdog, then it needs to be completely free of any ministerial interference.
“It is critical for the Government to be held responsible for its repeated attempts to cover up examples of Ministerial interference.
“It is without question that in New Zealand environmental regulatory decisions should be made on the basis of science and not politics.
“We intend to hold the Government to account for inappropriate ministerial interference in public agencies like the EPA and RNZ. New Zealand’s public sector needs scientists and journalists that are independent of the Government of the day,” Mr Simpson says.