Fish & Game says Government must heed young New Zealanders and act on clean water petition

  • 31/03/2016

Fish & Game is calling on the government to act for all New Zealanders and heed the public petition on clean water presented to politicians at Parliament on Tuesday.

Water droplets Hikoi March 2016The Choose Clean Water petition has been signed by 12 thousand people as a result of a student-led campaign for better freshwater standards. The petition demands the Government raise its bottom-line standards for freshwater from “wadeable” to “swimmable”.

Fish & Game says the march on Parliament shows people are getting increasingly frustrated by the government’s failure to properly represent their interests when it comes to protecting freshwater quality.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson was at Parliament for the presentation of the petition to opposition politicians and describes it as “an historic moment”.

“New Zealanders are fed up with their rivers being polluted, degraded and drained dry by irrigation. It is a sorry day for this country when our children can’t swim in rivers, streams and lakes because those water bodies have been so badly neglected and abused,” Mr Johnson says.

Bryce Johnson says it is time the government started working for all New Zealanders, rather than a select few who want to protect their vested interests.

“The government is allowing these vested interests to take away the public’s right to drink, swim in or gather food from our rivers and streams. This water belongs to everyone, not a few and the government needs to start doing something meaningful to protect the average person’s rights ahead of industry interests.

“The sad irony is that it is the hardworking taxpayer and local government ratepayer who is left to pick up the bill to fix decades of pollution while those responsible effectively remain unaccountable for their environmental harm," Mr Johnson says.

Fish & Game says the government’s recently released consultation document on freshwater doesn’t go anywhere near far enough and will end up weakening protection rather than strengthening it.

Bryce Johnson says Parliament should take careful note of the fact that the Choose Clean Water petition has been driven by young New Zealanders who are seriously worried about the country they will inherit.

“Politicians from all parties need to start doing something meaningful and constructive to protect our freshwater before it is too late. They need to think about the legacy they are leaving their children, grandchildren and the generations till to come.

“They have one shot at getting it right and ensure that New Zealand doesn’t end up like other countries. The environment is everyone’s home and must be protected by everyone for everyone”, says Mr Johnson.

Bryce Johnson says decisive action on the issue makes economic sense.

“New Zealand’s wealth relies heavily on clean fresh water. The country’s two biggest income earners – tourism and agriculture – cannot survive without it, yet the government is favouring one over the other, which can only have terminal consequences for both in the long term.

"At the very least, preserving water quality should be a straight commercial decision to protect New Zealand’s internationally unique point of difference and ability to earn a decent income for all its citizens”, Mr Johnson says.

Fish & Game says the government must make clean, swimmable water a national priority and give local government the mandate and courage to properly police the law.

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