It seems the Environment Minister is getting short on friends. As posted on Scoop Thursday:
Five leading environmental and outdoor recreation groups said today that the Government legislation on water conservation orders passed yesterday under urgency has sent a torpedo into the Government-backed national forum working on water management reform.
The groups said the Government’s legislation to replace Environment Canterbury includes provisions that reduce the statutory protection of iconic rivers, opening them up for dams and irrigation use.
And surprise, the government didn’t even keep its own water collaboration group in the loop. From the background notes:
Environment Minister Nick Smith said on 8 June 2009: “Today’s announcements are about Government setting the direction of water reform and setting up a process with stakeholders and Māori to develop solutions. This approach reflects a new style of collaborative environmental governance outlined in National’s 2006 Bluegreen vision document and 2008 election policy.”
A huge raspberry to all involved, including that sorry lot, the BlueGreens.
“The Land and Water Forum has been the best environmental and governance initiative of this Government to date, but that is now in jeopardy following this major breach of trust from the Government,” Environmental Defence Society (EDS) chair Gary Taylor said.
The five groups – EDS, Ecologic, Fish & Game, Whitewater NZ and Forest & Bird – said it is hard to see how the forum can continue as a collaborative and trusting process after yesterday’s law change.
“Changing the rules for water conservation orders was not needed to fix any problems at Environment Canterbury. This Bill was used as cover to smuggle in a change in the law equivalent to allowing mining in national parks,” Ecologic executive director Guy Salmon said.
Yes, even long-time BlueGreen Guy Salmon has spoken out in no uncertain terms, adding “The Government cannot ask stakeholders to behave in a collaborative manner unless it is prepared to behave in the same way itself”.
What a double, stripping local democracy from Canterbury residents and trashing water conservation in the same bill.
This charade was passed in time for April 1st. I wish it was just a bad joke.
Really Nick, even shouting “April Fool’s” right now would be forgiven.
Hat tip: greenfly
UPDATE: Rod Oram states here this morning that Canterbury’s dairy population has increased some 60.5% since 2002 according to the Creech report. That’s 239,000 cows, or 47% of the herd growth nation-wide in just 8 years. It’s easy to see why a coup was needed to ensure the diary industry can continue to meet it’s absurd growth targets, leaving Canterbury residents to drink shit or sea water.
UPDATE 2: More from an angry Guy Salmon here.