Wet bus tickets OR Clean Streams

The latest compliance figures on the Clean Streams Accord are due out on Thursday. Fonterra, in an attempt to front foot the issue – hinting that the Accord report will be bad news – has released a proposal to penalise non-compliant farmers a $3000 fine. It’s simply ‘a wet bus ticket’ approach to dealing with polluters – pathetic.

The Greens propose that Fonterra has to take much more responsibility for their suppliers’ environmental performance, given that they have substantial leverage, the economies-of-scale to fund and support improvements, and are key to NZ’s export and tourism brand. We’ve promoted a much more robust penalty scheme, stating that Fonterra should simply cancel the milk supply contract with farmers who are persistently and illegally polluting our waterways.

Previous compliance figures in Clean Streams reports have raised some eyebrows among organisations working on water quality, as there are basic flaws in the reporting structure that has meant that the figures are vastly at odds with data collected by regional councils, for example.

Forest & Bird and Fish and Game pointed out last year that the Accord does not actually monitor water quality as part of its reporting structure, and that in the five years since the Accord was signed, water quality in our lowland lakes and streams has actually declined. Not only that but the 2008 report averaged averages – a complete statistical nonsense.

The issue was highlighted on Sunday morning’s Insight programme on RadioNZ National, where I was quoted on what we are actually trying to achieve in this process:

I think most New Zealanders have the ambition that their lowland rivers and lakes are safe for their children to swim in. Once we got rid of the lowland forests, the last wild places on the plains and the last places held in common for everybody, are the rivers. And when the rivers become so polluted with effluent and nutrient flow that you can’t swim in them or use them or fish in them anymore, then they’re no longer held in common because you can’t use them, and they’re no longer wild places because there’s no wild fish or any other kind of wild animals in them. If we’re going to retain the last of the wild places on the plains, and the last of the places held in common, then we need to restore our lowland rivers and lakes, and it’s entirely possible to do that within a generation, if we have the will to do it.’

8 Comments Posted

  1. And they should publicise their wider submission – the party has a good case.

    On the theme of more public housing – there is a case for the government finishing some of the half completed projects (helps both finance company investors and sustains jobs) and until the market recovers and they sell the housing for a profit making it available to those on the waiting list.

  2. Ministry people/central bureaucrats working with local groups/bureaucrats to determine ways to “accelerate” the work … (as if such a thing would occur by that process) – farmers simply say they will do it when they can afford it.

    No wonder it got lost.

    It was a summit about creating jobs now and the way to accelerate the process (is a no brainer) is to have government finance it via loans which farmers pay back.

    Greens should be all over this issue. Its about the environment and its about sustainable economy.

  3. From the Greens input to the Job Summit:

    Protecting rural waterways and water quality

    Deteriorating water quality is a risk to brand New Zealand and our food, beverage and tourism exports. The major remaining (and increasing) source of freshwater pollution is runoff from farming. There are many parts of New Zealand where it is still common to see cows wading in rivers and streams; and even where they are fenced out, runoff continues.


    9. That MAF and MfE work with farming organisations and regional and rural district councils to find the best ways to support an acceleration of riparian planting of rivers and streams.

    Read the whole paper at http://www.greens.org.nz/node/20632

  4. Why did the Green Party not push for government intervention at the Job Summit? There is an economic stimulis to be had ending the pollution of the waterways.

    The government should fund the work and the farmer should pay the money back – say as students do by paying back a loan.

    There are jobs now, there is safer water supply to communities, there is better recreation for locals and tourists.

  5. Well greenfly, while I have in the past not been so concerned about water quality up this way, my opinion is now rapidly changing. There are quite measurable effects of cow pooze in a few waterways (and lakes) now and it seems to be getting rapidly worse.
    Its almost like a tipping point has been reached and suddenly things start deteriorating quite fast. The land use is changing so quickly that it is hard to know whether the cow crossings will make much difference or not.
    My concern now is that with farmers pleeding poverty (can you beleive it?) they will not be required to keep the environment clean.
    My oppinion has also been swayed after talking to and hearing of some of the larger farmer’s attitudes, some of them deserve to be quite harshly critisized. I guess some people have a sense of entitlement regardless of how wealthy or “hardworking” they are.

  6. Hey Shunda! Long time no comment. Viva la revolution! We’ve some big, new projects going on down here with conversions from wasteland to vege production, using green cropping as preparation and nifty home built seeding apparatus, new ideas on succession cropping – lots of excitement. Our small bays are getting fouled big time now though. The seeping effects of increased cow numbers is becoming apparent to even the casual observer. Sorry to hear about the state of the big farms up your way. I don’t like the look of the government’s plans for the RMA. What are your thoughts?

  7. Don’t wory greenfly, the largest of these farms will be going broke soon and will be able to be purchased for 5 bucks an acre. Just think of all that land that could be used for fruit trees and other sustainable projects.
    Its all going to plan mwaaaa ha ha haaa 😈

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