Although expected, the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, or clean water rules, that were released yesterday are a real disappointment. They are entirely toothless.
The Government is providing more money to assist with the cleaning of polluted water but surely dealing to the cause of the damage is the most effective strategy. Regional Councils will have no effective way to reduce or manage overstocking that is the main contributor to water degradation.
Those of us who have been desperate to save the Waituna Lagoon from flipping were looking to these rules as the last real possibility of ensuring substantial action. What was released instead was an irrigation handout, that will further intensify stock numbers, and a removal of the requirement to gain a resource consent for land use intensification. As Ali Timms, chair of the Environment Southland Council, has previously claimed, 100% compliance under the previous regulations will not save the lagoon and these new rules will not make a jot of a difference.
What we are lacking in this government is an understanding of what real governance means. They need to maintain a balanced perspective and find a sustainable pathway between economic interests and environmental sustainability. Instead they welcome the lobbyists for farming and business interests and allow them to dominate their thinking.
John Key's embarrassing interview in the UK just emphasized what a joke our 100% pure and clean and green brand is becoming. With a high number of our native birds on the world's endangered list and 90% of our low land rivers polluted, we have little to be proud of. Key's assertion that we are 100% pure compared to some other countries was justifiably laughed at. National's main maxim appears to be "as long as we are not the worst we are doing well". This government has almost non existent environmental aspirations and continues to behave like a colony of rats living in a bag of grain, eventually they will mix their source of survival with their own waste until it becomes toxic. No environment, no economy!