National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie welcomes the Government finally listening to hunting groups, including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council, and backing down from its original position to cull tens of thousands of tahr.
“Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage had ordered the culling of up to 25,000 tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected.
"Yesterday the Minister made changes to the locations of the cull and a commitment to review the cull after limiting it to an original 6000. She also conceded a reduction in the numbers of bulls to be killed, which would preserve tahr for trophy hunters.
“While I welcome the fact that Ms Sage has finally listened, I am disappointed it has taken so long for her to show respect to hunting groups.
“The Minister has no excuse for not adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters before she made the decision to cull.
“It’s clear the only reason the Minister has pulled back is because the hunters were heading to court to stop her plans. Over $156,000 was raised through Givealittle to pay for lawyers to stop the cull.
“On top of this, almost 33,000 concerned New Zealanders signed my petition calling on her to stop the cull in its current form.
“National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed, but conservation decisions should be based on science not ideology, and should involve engagement with key stakeholders.”
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected.
“While I welcome the fact that Ms Sage has delayed her cull this weekend, I am disappointed it has come to this.
“While National supports managing tahr numbers, the Minister has no excuses for not adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters.
“The hunting sector is advocating a responsible plan to manage tahr numbers rather than the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals. If Ms Sage had properly consulted, she would have a better understanding of this.
“Ms Sage must halt the cull until she has listened to advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.
“Almost 23,000 concerned New Zealanders have signed my petition calling on her to stop the cull. She must listen to them."
The petition calling on Eugenie Sage to Stop the Tahr Cull can be found here.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage needs to listen to the almost 20,000 Kiwis who have signed my petition in less than 15 hours and halt her cull of tens of thousands of tahr, due to start this weekend, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“Ms Sage’s decision to kill these tahr based on anecdotal evidence and without a proper consultation process with recreational hunters and the hunting industry is appalling.
“This is not based on science and is an unacceptable slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of recreational hunters who make a difference on the ground for conservation.
“Not only that, Ms Sage has also specifically instructed Department of Conservation to cull bull tahr – worth an estimated $14,000 each to the booming hunting tourism industry.
“National believes that conservation should be based on science, not ideology. Like the hunting community, National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed.
“Instead of taking a pragmatic approach, Ms Sage is ignoring advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.
“The Minister is arming DOC rangers with guns and chartering helicopters as we speak.
“The cull starts Sunday. It must be stopped.”
The petition calling on Eugenie Sage to Stop the Tahr Cull can be found here.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage needs to halt her cull of 17,500 Himalayan Tahr due to start on 30 September until proper engagement and consultation has taken place, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“Ms Sage’s decision to cull 17,500 Tahr without a consultation process with the industry illustrates her Greens-know-best approach to all matters of Government.
“She must stop this cull until her Department has had a chance to consult with the hunting industry and recreational hunters properly.
“The new Minister is positioning the direction of DOC away from recreation and visitor assets.
“National believes in a pragmatic approach to conservation, and the recreation sector plays an important role in this. With respect to Tahr control, the Minister must ensure that the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan 1993 is still fit for purpose before it is imposed at will.
“Her decision to cull Himalayan Tahr comes on the back of her decision to abandon the interests of hunters by putting the future of the Game Animal Council through yet another of the Government’s reviews.
“Ms Sage does not feel the need to listen or provide sufficient resources to the Council for the many services that they offer, such as establishing management plans for ‘herds of special interest’ and giving advice on aerial hunting codes, illegal hunting and access to the conservation estate.
“This is unacceptable and a clear slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of recreational hunters who make a difference on the ground for conservation.
“Fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation are part of New Zealand’s unique way of life. National’s Bluegreen approach of having recreationists more directly involved and getting sector groups like recreational and commercial hunters around the table to resolve matters such as Himalayan Tahr would have avoided the mess Ms Sage has created.
“Unfortunately, the current Government and Minister of Conservation have abandoned the interests of New Zealanders getting into the great outdoors.
“If Ms Sage won’t enable New Zealanders and the hunting sector to get out and engage with conservation efforts – then we are fighting a losing battle.”
Statements by Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson that 1080 protestors have ‘valid concerns’ completely contradict her colleague - Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage’s policy of increasing the use of 1080, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“We are getting used to the different parties in Government contradicting each other, but it is a new level of chaos when we have a Green co-leader contradicting her own Green Minister.
“Ms Sage has consistently argued that 1080 is the best tool for protecting New Zealand’s native species and the statement by Ms Davidson that protestors have valid concerns puts a spoke in the wheel of the Government’s conservation programme.
“Ms Davidson comments just muddy the waters and undermine the efforts and hard work of Department of Conservation staff in protecting New Zealand’s species.
“National is committed to ensuring that our children, and their children, will be able to experience kiwi and other native birds in the wild.
“We believe that conservation should be based on science, not ideology.
“The science is unequivocal, 1080 is currently the best tool we have for controlling the rats, stoats and possums that kill 25 million birds per year.
“National introduced Predator Free New Zealand and expanded the area where pests are controlled from 100,000 hectares a year to over 800,000 hectares. We welcomed the announcement from the Government in the Budget to further double it to 1.6 million hectares.
“The confused messaging in this Government are not just from the Green Party. NZ First campaigned to ban the use of 1080 – but when in Government voted to double its use.
“This is not the first time Ms Sage has found herself out of step with her own party leadership. Her decision to grant Overseas Investment Act approval to a water bottler was controversial.
“National is the only party that has consistently taken a science-based approach to pest control.”
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash’s admission today that he still hasn’t made a call on the introduction of cameras on commercial fishing vessels shows NZ First continues to hold Labour and the Greens over a barrel, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“Mr Nash confirmed at the Forest and Bird conference in June that it is his own colleagues who are blocking the roll-out of cameras on commercial fishing vessels even though we know they would bring immense conservation benefits.
“If rolled-out fully as National proposed, digital monitoring would help revolutionise the way New Zealand’s commercial fisheries are managed and monitored and ensure fewer of our marine mammals like dolphins and seals are accidentally killed.
“The Government’s claim that it is making progress on so-called technical and administrative issues is just an excuse to buy more time while Labour kowtows to its minor party colleague.
“Mr Nash promised in June that a paper was due to go to Cabinet soon. However, it is now clear that NZ First Ministers are still standing in the way.
“Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage needs to help Mr Nash get NZ First over the line.
“Ms Sage talked a big game in Opposition. She promised that with the Greens in Government ‘completely unacceptable’ fishing practices would stop. In Government, Ms Sage says nothing as NZ First continues to call the shots with Labour.
“As we have seen this week, NZ First is undermining the Labour and the Greens at every step. Now NZ First are blocking simple, practical measures across the line that would save dolphins and seabirds.”
A Members Bill to provide best practice regulations for shark cage diving activities has been drawn from the ballot and will be debated in Parliament, National’s Conservation spokesperson and local Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie says.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill acknowledges and addresses the risk that is posed by shark cage diving that is carried out in close proximity to beaches. This risk is increased due to the nature of competing activities in coastal waters in the Stewart Island area, where shark cage diving is currently carried out.
“Water-users, residents and families on Stewart Island have felt endangered by shark cage diving operations that are carried out close to the shore.
“This Bill comes after a Court of Appeal judgment that would close down shark cage divers. Shark cage tourism operators have no intention of giving up their fight, hence this Bill is timely.
"The Court also stated that it is now for Parliament to consider whether these activities should be permitted.
“Something needs to be done to ensure that consideration of public safety surrounding shark cage diving activities is paramount.
“The Bill would provide conditions for granting permits relating to the geographical area within which the commercial shark cage diving operation may operate, as well as minimum distances of operation from specified locations such as beaches.
“It would also provide the means to ensure that the people operating the cages work in a way that poses no threat to sharks, while also mitigating the clear threat to the safety of the public using the sea for work or recreation.
“The Bill is supported by both tourism operators and fishers.
“I have had ongoing involvement with the matter since it was initially brought to my attention in 2014. I look forward to seeking cross-party support.”
The National Party is continuing to be the Party of ideas and leadership with four Members’ Bills being drawn from the Ballot today.
Members’ Bills from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, Northland MP Matt King and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker will all be debated in Parliament.
“My Bill is focused on ensuring that all children in years 1-8 have universal access to learn a second language. It requires the Education Minister to set at least 10 priority languages following public consultation, and places a requirement on the Crown to fund these languages,” Ms Kaye says. “It will be up to school boards to decide which languages will be taught in schools but they will be required to offer at least one second language to their students. The Bill makes clear that NZ Sign and Te Reo must be national priority languages and funded by the crown. The benefits of speaking more than one language are huge for New Zealand from a social, economic and cultural perspective.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill acknowledges and addresses the risk that is posed by shark cage diving that is carried out in close proximity to beaches. This risk is increased due to the nature of competing activities in coastal waters in the Stewart Island area, where shark cage diving is currently carried out. Water-users, residents and families on Stewart Island have felt endangered by shark cage diving operations that are carried out close to the shore. The decision is timely given yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision which would shut cage divers down,” Ms Dowie says.
National also continues to be the Party of law and order, with Bills increasing penalties for coward punches and high-power laser pointer offences.
“My Bill would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death, which would be easier to prove than manslaughter. It would apply to those who throw cowardly punches at unsuspecting victims who later die from their injuries and has a maximum penalty of 20-years imprisonment. This will send a clear message to offenders that thuggish and violent behaviour won’t be tolerated,” Mr King says.
“The High-Power Laser Pointer Bill will double the term of imprisonment available and the fines, up to six months and $4000. The safety of our pilots and their passengers is paramount and anyone who interferes with that should be punished appropriately,” Mr Walker says.
National is the Party of ideas and action – and these four Bills prove that.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is increasingly showing how hamstrung she is as she won’t rule out new mines on conservation land and the Government’s competing coalition priorities continue to pull her in opposite directions, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“Today in Question Time we saw Minister Sage wavering on her commitment to the Government’s policy of no new mines on conservation land when she said that mining on stewardship land would be considered as part of policy developments,” Ms Dowie says.
“Ms Sage’s admission in the House flies in the face of her Party’s policy and is another example of NZ First walking all over the Greens.
“The Government claimed in its foundational document the Speech from the Throne that it would not allow new mining on conservation land, but given that it will be considered in future policy decisions it is clearly not off the table.
“New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals officials were recently granted access to prospect mining areas across vast areas of conservation land, in spite of the Government’s promise of no new mining on the conservation estate.
“It begs the question why the Government is allowing mining prospecting on public conservation land if it has promised to put an end to mining on the conservation estate?
“We oppose mining on high-value conservation land but New Zealand needs a pragmatic and balanced approach to the economy and the environment.
“Ms Sage vowed to remain as Minister of Conservation if new mines are approved by the Government on any of today’s conservation estate, but her own answers suggest that as per usual, the preferences of Shane Jones and NZ First may yet win out.”
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is increasingly showing how hamstrung she is as the Government’s competing coalition priorities continue to go against her, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
The Government claimed in its foundational document the Speech from the Throne that it would not allow new mining on conservation land,” Ms Dowie says.
“But recently, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has acknowledged how vital the extractive industries are for future economic activity on the West Coast and he has dropped some heavy hints that Department of Conservation stewardship land will continue to be available for mining.
“This is at the same time as Labour MP Damien O’Connor is stating that ‘we need to continue with mining in order to construct key infrastructure around the country,’ and the Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods is promoting the potential use of the West Coast as a source of rare minerals which are essential for wind turbines and hybrid cars.
“So which is it? Once again Ms Sage has been found to not have the answers.
“Today in Question Time we saw another clear example of the ideological divisions that are creating uncertainty and halting progress in regional New Zealand.
“National supports sensible steps to protect our environment and reduce our carbon emissions. We oppose mining on high-value conservation land but New Zealand needs a pragmatic and balanced approach to the economy and the environment.
“The Government has shown with its decision to ban oil and gas exploration in Taranaki that it seems intent on undermining New Zealand’s economy and prosperity.
“It’s time for Ms Sage to admit that her Government has misled New Zealanders and that it is now Government policy to allow mining on stewardship land by simply carving it out of the conservation estate. How can regional New Zealand expect to have any certainty when all three coalition parties are expressing competing priorities and policies?”