NIWA report proves National’s trickery re swimmable rivers

National have a slacker standard for swimmable rivers than was the case prior to their recent so-called Clean Water amendment to the National Policy Statement (NPS), says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker.

“The table 11 on page 25 of the NIWA report shows that rivers previously classified as unswimmable are now classed swimmable.

“The description that follows the table admits this, saying ‘the number of sites that would be classified as swimmable will vary depending on the approach taken as to how swimmability is defined’, and then says on page 26 that the 2017 proposal for swimmable is “more permissive” than the 2014 NPS. More permissive means lower water quality rivers are reclassified as swimmable, as table 11 shows.

“Nick Smith has denied this, and is now shown to be wrong.

“It’s time to stop the trickery. Labour will regulate to clean up our rivers to enable Kiwis to swim in their local river in summer, without getting ill and without getting out covered in slime. If your local river and my local river are clean, then all our rivers will be clean. It’s not too much to ask,” says David Parker.

11 May 2017 Media Statement

Urgent action needed on dirty rivers

The Our fresh water environment 2017 report re-confirms that we need urgent action to clean up our rivers. Meanwhile, National is standing by as our rivers get even more polluted, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

“This report is yet more evidence that many of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are in a bad way.

“Dairy cow numbers have increased by a million since National took office and now many New Zealanders can’t swim in their local river.

“Nitrogen pollution is getting worse. Many of our rivers are unsafe to swim in. Our native fish species are in trouble. Without change, things will get worse.

“We have reached, and in many places exceeded, the limits of what our environment can bear.

“Just because farmers were allowed to pollute last year doesn’t mean they should pollute this year or the next.

“We’ve got to return to Judge Sheppard’s National Policy Statement (NPS) that said increases to land use intensity causing more nutrient and faecal contamination to our waterways should no longer be a permitted activity.

“National ignored these recommendations and spiked the NPS. Its weak substitutes have not worked.

“Rules need to be more strictly enforced against those who are acting illegally. Bad farming practices like ‘spray and pray’, and cows in rivers are happening because there’s rarely any consequence to breaching even the lax rules we have.

“The Environmental Protection Agency needs to be adequately funded so it can prosecute farm directors who are acting illegally.

“There must be nutrient caps for each catchment based on science and allocated fairly.

“It’s a Kiwi birthright to swim in your local river. If your local river and my local river are clean enough to swim in, then all our rivers will be clean. It’s not too much to ask,” says David Parker.
27 April 2017 Media Statement

Maori Party error own goal on GM

The Maori Party amendment to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill does not achieve what they say it does on genetic modification, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

“Their amendment relates to the new powers given to the Minister to over-ride local democracy by knocking out or amending rules in District or Regional RMA plans.

“The Maori Party amendment was supported by all parties in Parliament last night except the Act Party, because it does narrow the Minister’s over-ride power, but only a little.

“It does this by saying the regulation cannot be used to knock out plan rules prohibiting GM ‘crops’.

“The problem is that “crops” do not include GM grasses or pasture.

“This was exposed last night in Parliament when Minister Nick Smith confirmed this in the debate when he correctly quoted the dictionary meaning: ‘crops’ are the produce of cultivated plants such as cereals, vegetables or fruit.’

“The Minister is right. Thus ‘crops’ do not include GM grass.

“Despite Maori Party assertions to the contrary, they are voting for a law which opens the door to GM grasses and pastures. This is widely opposed in many communities, especially by Maori.

“Maori Party support was obtained on the back of this ineffective amendment.

“The RLA Bill is deeply flawed in many different ways. They should be held to account for backing this flawed law, which will only pass with their support,” says David Parker.


5 April 2017 Media Statement

Productivity Commission report welcome, but Nats lack will

Labour is welcoming the Productivity Commission’s new report on urban planning, saying many of the recommendations reflect Labour policy.

“It is great to see Productivity Commission backing infrastructure bonds, targeted rates, more competitive urban land markets, and urban development authorities – all policies Labour has been championing to restore housing affordability,” says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

David Parker says many of the proposed changes could have been implemented eight years ago but National has been sitting on its hands.

“The National Government wasted eight years trying to weaken the RMA with constant tinkering, instead of tackling the real road blocks to urban growth that have been a major cause of the housing crisis.

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says the Productivity Commission highlights the failure of Government to provide national direction under the RMA.

“This is a polite way of saying National has dropped the ball for eight years. Freeing up restrictive land use rules so our cities can make room for growth could have been achieved eight years ago by a strong National Policy Statement under the RMA. Labour has been calling for that for the last five years.

“National has had eight years in Government. They have shown comprehensively they have no appetite for the bold reforms needed to fix the housing crisis. That is only going to happen with the election of a Labour-led Government in September,” says Phil Twyford.


29 March 2017 Media Statement

National’s trade target ruse another promise on the never never

The Prime Minister 2030 trade target is a ruse to avoid acknowledging National’s failure to meet its election promise to lift exports from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025, says Labour’s Trade spokesperson David Parker
“It is another meaningless promise on the never never.
“The sad reality is that our exports are down to just 26 per cent of GDP. This failure by National won’t be cured by 2030 promises about  FTAs .
“His talk of 90 per cent of our exports being covered by free trade agreements by 2030 is just that – talk. It does virtually nothing to rebalance the economy away from speculation to productive exports.
“His grand ‘Trade Agenda 2030’ document has not a single reference to any goal of lifting exports as a percentage of GDP. That ambition has disappeared,” says David Parker.

24 March 2017 Media Statement

District Council prosecution should not halt wider inquiry

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s decision to prosecute Hastings District Council in the contaminated water case should not delay the wider inquiry” says Labour Environment spokesperson David Parker.
“This is the most serious contamination of a public water supply in living memory. Thousands of people fell ill.  It’s important that we get to the bottom of all aspects of what went wrong.
“The court process in respect of the District Council prosecution will now follow. However, it’s also critical that the wider inquiry is completed, so that we prevent such an alarming situation reoccurring.   
“It remains of huge concern that in a first world country, the health of thousands of people could be endangered by contaminated drinking water.
“The response of the health authorities as well as the council also needs to be investigated.  Havelock North residents are right to question why it took so long for some people to be warned once the contamination threat was evident.
It seems unlikely that this was all the fault of the District Council, and the role of the District Health Board and the Ministry of Health also needs scrutiny,” says David Parker.

18th November 2016

Media Statement

US election cover won’t save Māori Party

Under the cover of the United States election the Māori Party have again done the business of National, this time on the amendments to the RMA, says Labour Environment spokesperson David Parker.
“These amendments are currently dead unless the Māori Party does National’s bidding to save a drowning Nick Smith.
“The fundamentally flawed RLA Bill process has been a shambles, with the Bill reported back to Parliament without amendments after 11 months at select committee. National members blocked any report from the Committee to Parliament, despite the Clerk of Parliament saying this would be extraordinary.
“Labour’s blocked minority bill on the flaws in the Bill is attached.
“The Māori Party has now agreed to vote with National to support the Bill proceeding. The Māori Party are agreeing to changes that will undermine the environment and confer outrageous regulation making powers on the Minister to overrule councils.
“National does not have the votes to pass these latest changes to the RMA without the Māori Party, and voters will take note.   
“Māori roll voters are suffering under a National government propped up by the Māori Party. They are disproportionately suffering unemployment, unaffordable rents and low wages. Home ownership amongst Māori has plummeted.
“Voters will punish the Māori Party at the next election,” says David Parker.

9th November Media Statement