Currently there is a Bill going through Parliament that increases enforcement powers for wildlife officers. We are supporting it because we know that smuggling of precious and threatened wildlife is occurring and that our wildlife officers need more power to stop this.
However we are also frustrated because National continues to ignore the fact the Department of Conservation (DOC) is underfunded and under-resourced.
DOC’s budget is down by nearly $55 million a year since National came into power in 2008, and that is a serious amount of money.
We’ve seen massive job cuts right across DOC, which the Government claims are part of moving to a partnership model; that’s just a fancy way of saying that it is not going to fund DOC properly to do its core work, but rely on corporate sponsorship and volunteers to do its work for it.
It’s wrong that DOC staff are constantly being asked to do more with less. Our species and our natural environment are suffering as a result. How is DOC supposed to properly protect our threatened wildlife it has lost more than 40 of its skilled, expert rangers in the last 5 years? It can’t.
If you don’t have enough experienced rangers on the ground, monitoring and checking what is going on, then chucking a handful of extra enforcement powers around is not going to be enough to protect our species.
The Green Party is absolutely committed to restoring and increasing funding for DOC as a first step towards ensuring that our precious native species thrive and flourish.