Labour’s tertiary education reforms will be wider than first thought and will strip the Southern Institute of Technology of power and assets, MP for Invercargill Sarah Dowie says.
“National has obtained a Cabinet paper which outlines this information, the Government will take this paper to Cabinet on Monday.
“The Government is intending on renaming regional polytechnics as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). A National Government will undo some of the most damaging ideological changes proposed.
“The Government’s ‘we know best’ attitude will see Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and polytechs dissolved over two years. The organising of apprentices will be taken from industry, who know the needs of our region best, and instead given to one polytech.
“They will have their cash assets and community legacy assets ring fenced at head office, all other assets will be taken away and consolidated. Current boards will be sacked on day one, including local members and will be replaced by a subsidiary board, and regional leadership groups will be advisory only.
“This is disastrous for Southland and for our well performing Southern Institute of Technology (SIT). SIT is in touch with local business needs in the community and are training the skilled and semi-skilled as apprentices, helping them grow, succeed and gain meaningful employment.
“Southland institutions and businesses are best placed to assess and deliver for the needs of Southlanders. They don’t need to be told what to do by a Government that thinks it knows best, intent on removing this knowledge from our region.
“The Labour-led Government has said it is committed to the regions. But they are destroying a polytechnic which is integral to our community. These reforms are punishing our regions and are punishing well performing institutions like SIT. Wellington shouldn’t be telling Southland what to do.
“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to the community. We will return polytechnic decision making to communities and the regions. We will return apprentices to industry. Education Minister Chris Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions like SIT alone.
“We will fight these reforms every step of the way, we know how important SIT is to Southland and Southlanders, and we know our region knows what is best for our community’s needs. National will overturn some of the Government’s most damaging ideological polytech reforms.”
Today’s announcement of some cameras on fishing vessels is a disappointing back down and another broken promise from the Coalition Government, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“The previous National Government proposed for more than 70 per cent of the commercial fleet to comply with an in-depth digital monitoring system that would have made a tangible difference in protecting our seabirds, marine wildlife and fisheries.
“The Government stalled these changes and has now significantly watered them down. It’s only proposing cameras on 28 of the more than 1000 commercial vessels in our fisheries. This isn’t even going to cover five per cent of the fishery.
“Once again we’re seeing who’s really in charge in this Government, NZ First has been staunchly against monitoring and its fingerprints are all over this underwhelming announcement.
“In the Government’s year of delivery this is another stark failure. The Minister for Fisheries said it was delaying the implementation so it could get it right, but it appears it was merely diminishing the original policy to a point where it will no longer be effective.
“This is a massive disappointment and will do nothing to protect our vulnerable marine species. The Government needs to take some ownership and introduce measures that will really protect the sustainability of New Zealand’s marine environment.”
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has again let her ideology cloud her judgement by not upping the ante with more money for Predator Free 2050 in the Botched Budget, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“She’s missing a golden opportunity to eradicate possums, rats and stoats from the mainland by choosing to simply roll over existing funding for Predator Free 2050 rather than pumping money into community-led projects and biotechnology research that could be a game-changer.
“It shows how close-minded the Minister is given Department of Conservation officials have told her that biotechnology could provide a breakthrough alternative to 1080 poison.
“Predator Free 2050’s mandate includes looking at biotech as an option, but Ms Sage won’t allow this to be investigated. Her spending on Conservation is going to be wasted if she continues to ignore the advice of experts and community stakeholders, and keeps up her Minister-knows-best attitude.
“Recent studies have shown the number of native birds spotted in this country has dropped dramatically, which should be a wakeup call that Predator Free 2050 is immensely important.
“Generations to come deserve to see kiwi, takahē and kōkako in the wild, and if the Minister doesn’t take Predator Free 2050 seriously then this could be in jeopardy.”
“The programme was established by the previous National Government, with wide support for its ambition to achieve the seemingly impossible task of eradicating predators from mainland New Zealand.
“Schools, volunteers and businesses have been doing their bit to restore the dawn chorus of bird song in our forests and backyards with trapping initiatives. Now the Minister is wasting an opportunity to build on their work and progress further.”
The closure of ‘The Four Sisters’ walking track in Northland due to Kauri Dieback has brought into focus this Government’s painfully slow approach to dealing with the disease, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“In December 2017 Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage asked the Kauri Dieback Programme to develop a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) to stop the spread of this concerning pathogen.
“Emphasising how ‘urgent and effective action’ was needed to save these iconic trees, both Ministers said this was ‘by far the strongest piece of regulation available’.
“But two and a half years later this Government has failed to meet its lofty rhetoric, with the final consultation round only recently closing in March. Meanwhile the Management Plan itself, which is now at Cabinet, isn’t pencilled for release until September 2019.
“This is hardly the ‘urgent and effective’ response this Government promised in December 2017. What we’ve been given instead is a piecemeal response that isn’t going to have any tangible effect for some time to come.
“Dozens of tracks on DOC land are closed, some permanently, while others remain partially closed with access restricted in certain areas. The timeframes for partially closed tracks differs from site to site and there are large tracts of at-risk forests that are still open to the public.
“We are past consultation and need clear action to stop the spread of this devastating pathogen—or else we risk losing our Northern Forests altogether.”
Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie is congratulating the Ministry of Education for reconsidering its programme of consultation and sending the review panel to Southland so our community can have its say.
“National was informed last week that the consultation review panel would only travel as far south as Christchurch, despite the Government considering massive changes to the Polytechnic sector which could drastically affect the Southern Institute of Technology.
“The panel has today announced it will be coming to Southland. I commend them for this turn around.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has been very defensive with me about this on social media. The amount of time he’s spent trying to argue with me on Facebook and Twitter would have been better spent out in the community talking to the people who will be impacted by these reforms.
“While I’m grateful the panel will be visiting Invercargill, my offer remains open to the Minister to come to Southland and hear from our community about an issue we feel so strongly about as he is yet to confirm whether he will visit with the panel.
“I also encourage the Minister to extend the consultation period to longer than the six weeks he’s put aside.
“Invercargill is rightly proud of SIT. SIT feeds into our Southland Regional Development Strategy to attract 10,000 more people to Southland by 2025 and has helped diversify our community. It’s important that the Minister comes here and see this success for himself.”
Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie is encouraging WasteNet to consider the social value that Southland DisAbility Enterprises has to the community when it retenders its contract.
“Southland disAbility Enterprises provides meaningful employment and development opportunities to people with disabilities in our communities. It’s a great scheme which enriches people’s lives.
“We understand that WasteNet has a business to run, but we encourage them to consider that without this contract 100 jobs could be lost and there would be an additional burden on taxpayers of $5 million annually in unemployment or sickness benefits.
“From my own experience visiting SDE I can say that it’s one of the best workplace cultures I have ever seen. The employees love their work and their comradery is second to none. Their contribution to the Southland community is huge.
“Eighty per cent of the staff have a disability. I encourage the people who are considering the tender to visit this amazing company. It will be one of the most incredible and unique businesses you will ever see.”
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.”