PCE proves water quality still deteriorating

The PCE State of the Environment Report shows that river water quality is continuing to get worse across large parts of New Zealand, says Labour’s Environment and Water spokesperson David Parker.
 
“Water quality has deteriorated in Canterbury, Central Otago, Auckland, Taranaki, Central North Island, the Wairarapa and the Manawatu. 
 
“After eight years of National, this is a fail. Land use intensity that is increasing pollution to our rivers is not yet under control. National’s wadability (rather than swimability) minimum standard is part of the problem. 
 
“New Zealand needs to return to the form of National Policy Statement under the RMA recommended by former Chief Environment Court Judge Sheppard. It said clean rivers should be kept clean and dirty rivers cleaned up over a generation. To achieve this increases in land use intensity should not be a permitted activity until plans have the rules needed to keep our rivers clean.
 
“The problems caused by erosion, including the siltation of our rivers and estuaries, are made worse by poor government policy. Current water and climate change policy distorts land use choices to the detriment of forestry profitability. This is a significant cause of the problem,” says David Parker.

29 June 2016 Media Statement


Crown Law solicitor paid more to prosecute dog owners than murderers

Crown solicitors have vented their frustration with funding cuts for prosecutions, including reporting they can be paid more to prosecute dog owners than murderers, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker.

“A Crown Law memo to the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson outlines a litany of concerns from solicitors for an agency that has faced ruthless cuts to its funding. The funding cuts were intended to average 25 per cent, and were predicted to be as high as 40 per cent for some firms.

“The documents obtained under the Official Information Act recorded one Crown solicitor stating the local Council paid a higher hourly rate to prosecute dangerous dog owners that the Crown did to prosecute murderers and that this likely not uncommon across the country. That’s astounding.

“One of the foremost duties of any government is to protect its citizens, including by enforcing the criminal law through prosecutions of criminals through the Courts. Crown lawyers have to be adequately funded in order to do that job properly.

“The memo contains other examples from solicitors:

Solicitors have retired their Crown warrant because of low fees.
Firms are unable to retain senior staff and struggling to recruit new people.
One solicitor said his office had cancelled the cleaning contract just to make ends meet.
The difference for one firm between being viable or not was changing the office lease.
Solicitors are seriously concerned about losing overworked staff to commercial law firms.
Concerns pressure will lead to mistakes by junior prosecutors.

“This prosecution system is clearly under extreme pressure. Legal counsel for accused criminals have told me their clients are pleading guilty to reduced charges,” says David Parker.


Under-reporting shows need to review quota system

The Government must launch an independent review into New Zealand’s 30-year-old Quota Management System following a new report suggesting gross under-reporting of catch in the New Zealand fishing industry, Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker says.
 
“The Auckland University report found the total New Zealand fisheries catch from 1950 to 2010 was 38.1 million tonnes – 2.7 times the 14 million tonnes officially reported to the United Nations.

“It is sadly unsurprising that there could be fraudulent practises among an industry where some rogue players were found to be subjecting foreign workers to slave-like conditions aboard their vessels. Despite initial denials by the industry, it was proven that some workers were being paid under the minimum wage with intolerable living and work conditions.
 
“We mustn’t let the bad behaviour of some once again bring the entire industry into disrepute.
 
“The new fisheries catch data released today should be taken very seriously. It suggests a gross under-reporting of actual catch, which would mean a significant amount of by-catch is being discarded,” David Parker says.
 
Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says when the QMS was introduced it was regarded as one of the most effective fisheries management regimes in the world.

“The international science now available did not exist 30 years ago. Monitoring is now old fashioned and incomplete.
 
“The industry has been working to improve commercial catch data through innovative new technologies. Efforts are also being made to gather better information on recreational catch.
 
“We must ensure the QMS is updated to properly protect our fishery,” Rino Tirikatene says.

Monday 16 May Media Statement


Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding

Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson David Parker.

“The Government needs to provide long term, secure funding so KiwiRail can plan for the future and not have to consider scrapping essential freight and ferry services.

“The KiwiRail review shows that unless the Government’s funding continues, the SOE is not viable and rail lines and ferries will shut down. This will be another blow to regions, business and tourist industries that rely on regular rail services. National is out of touch with the concerns of people and businesses in the regions.

“The problem is National funded the SOE through the sales of the electricity companies. That money has run out now. National needs to find a Plan B and develop secure funding for KiwiRail.

“KiwiRail and the rail network is a poor cousin to roads and trucking as they are not funded in the same way.

“The National Land Transport Fund will spend over $10 billion in the next four years. Some of that needs to go towards rail which avoids extra spending on roads caused by more trucks.

“It’s time for National to develop a long term solution,” says David Parker.

 

27 April 2016   Media Statement


Overseas carbon credits scam caused by National

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett needs to fix the damage her Government has wrecked on the Emissions Training Scheme outlined in the Morgan Foundation’s damning “Climate Cheats” report released today, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

“National cannot blame anyone else. National chose not to restrict ‘hot air’ carbon units from overseas swamping the ETS. National chose to put a cap on the price of carbon but no floor. National chose to exclude agriculture.


“The price collapse to close to zero was caused by National. It made a mockery of the ETS. This stopped the ETS reducing emissions, to the detriment of our environment. It also harmed our economy by undermining our forest planters and caused the dairy bubble to get bigger before it burst.


“Labour was been calling on the Government to close down overseas trading in ‘hot air’ carbon credits from the likes of the Ukraine since 2012. National knew there was a problem, caused in part by the lack of a successor agreement to Kyoto, but wilfully refused to fix it.


“The report finds it was ‘virtually impossible’ for the Government not to be at least aware that there was a serious integrity problem with many of these overseas credits.


“It cites the evidence that New Zealand was by far the biggest consumer of fraudulent foreign carbon credits from Ukraine. While our involvement in this scam was known to those that understood the ETS, this report exposes the full extent of the sham and the consequences.


“As the latest Listener article makes clear, the ETS architecture is sound. It can easily be restored to work by including agriculture (as recommended by the last review panel), and by stopping the entry of bogus units that don’t represent reputable emissions reductions, ” says David Parker.

April 18 2016  Media Statement


Kermadec: don’t forget foreshore and seabed

The lessons of foreshore and seabed must not be forgotten and the Crown should not by legislation run rough-shod over Māori interests, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

“The Government must not extinguish Treaty rights by legislation.

“Labour supports Te Ohu Kaimoana’s legal challenge being determined before this legislation proceeds. The Crown must allow this to happen and honour the outcome, says David Parker.

“The Government’s secret deal over the proposed Kermadec sanctuary also raises serious concerns about Treaty of Waitangi settlements and undermines the full and final settlement principle,” says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“The decision was made in secret with a feeble attempt at consultation so the Prime Minister could announce it at the United Nations.

“This does nothing but give Maori a very good reason to not trust the Government.

“The Deed of Settlement that was signed by National in 1992 states ‘nothing in this Act shall affect any Maori fishing rights’ but that’s obviously not the case now.

“Te Aupouri and Ngati Kuri were given hours to consider a complex issue that affects future generations so that’s hardly appropriate consultation.

“Sir Tipene O’Regan says the Government was being pressured by international lobby groups to establish the sanctuary but failed to recall the area was already protected by an existing Treaty and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) from local iwi,” says Kelvin Davis.
2 April 2016   Media Statement


Labour committed to KiwiBank in public ownership

“KiwiBank must remain in public ownership – the bottom line for New Zealanders who don’t want to see KiwiBank end up in the hands of overseas owners like the other major trading banks, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson David Parker.

“National has ignored the need for KiwiBank to access more capital it needs to expand and compete and constrain the dominant Australian banks.

“Michael Cullen should be congratulated for securing a route to expand KiwiBank and keep it in public ownership, given the refusal of National to provide more capital for NZ Post or KiwiBank.

“Michael Cullen’s solution only works to ensure the bank will remain in public ownership if National promises that if ACC or the Super Fund sells its shares, then the government of the day would exercise its first right of refusal and buy them back

“Labour would do that. National must also publically commit to that today. If they do not, then this could be a step towards privatisation of KiwiBank in the future.

“National should also guarantee that if KiwiBank issues more shares to raise more capital to expand, the Government will take up its share to preserve NZ Post’s 55% ownership.

“It is also important that parts of the new funds going to NZ Post are directed to ensuring NZ Post employees who lose their jobs are given the training and opportunities they need to enter new careers or jobs rather than just filling the Government’s coffers,” says David Parker.
6 April 2016   Media Statement

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