Govt pools bureaucrats to finalise water policy

The government has quietly formed a 40-strong Water Reform Directorate in the Ministry for the Environment to respond to last week's report of the four-year experiment in consensus policy-making, the Land and Water Forum.

In a move welcomed by water sector watchers as a sign the LAWF process will produce major improvements in freshwater allocation and management, the directorate was established in August, drawing on officials from a range of disparate government agencies.

These include representatives from MfE, the Ministries of Primary Industries and Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Departments of Conservation and Internal Affairs, Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Office of Treaty Settlements.

The directorate appears to be a response to concerns that too many agencies have had partial responsibility for freshwater policy, leading to fragmented advice.

Last week's LAWF report contained major recommendations to create a nationally guided, locally decided system for allocating freshwater resources among industrial, municipal, recreational, agricultural, iwi and other users.

Primary Industries and Environment Ministers David Carter and Amy Adams welcomed the report, saying it provided a foundation for the government to complete its consideration of an issue that has become urgent as New Zealand waterways have become increasingly polluted and over-allocated.

"At this stage it is planned that it will be in place until about the end of March 2013," environment deputy secretary, policy, Guy Beatson, says in a statement supplied to BusinessDesk.

The directorate is headed by a senior MfE official Kay Harrison, reporting to Paul Reynolds (MfE and chairman of the Natural Resource Sector agencies) and Wayne McNee (MPI) as project sponsors.

"The timing of the setting up of the directorate reflected the need to gear up to provide timely advice on the Land and Water Forum recommendations," Mr Beatson says. "Officials have been able to begin preparing advice based on the first two reports, while waiting on the finalisation of the third report.

"By co-locating this team of specialist analysts and advisors, the directorate is providing an all-of-government perspective to the water reform work, which is a key environmental and economic priority for the Government.

"Agencies may continue to provide separate second-opinion advice to their Ministers – although the more collaborative approach made possible by a cross-agency directorate will narrow the issues on which they may wish to suggest different approaches to ministers."

The approach is consistent with the government's Better Public Services initiative to improve collaboration in the bureaucracy.

"It is something we expect to see more often, especially across the Natural Resources Sector agencies, which deal with complex, cross-cutting issues," Mr Beatson says.

(BusinessDesk)

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6 Comments & Questions

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40, really?

That's almost half the total number of MPs it takes to run the whole country ... what the heck are all these guys doing? ...besides cashing taxpayer checks.

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Absolutely 40 !
What a talk fest that will be....
Seems like a number typical of a few years ago. Are we sure H. Klark isn't still pulling strings somewhere keeping her pals employed?

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Then they will refer it back to themselves for another talkfest. Oh the fees joy joy

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Any reason they didnt include SumAir/Space or Time in there just as a safeguard..
You never know why Maui was pulling up the Island from the techtonic plates and his canoe turned to stone to form the south Island.. He might have also beaten that sun with his mere and pulled it into a hole with his flax ropes until it promised to go across the sky at the same time.. Did anyone think of passing this into law so theres no Maori Sun tax cause if you open up the water and the land then surely the Sun will be next.. Solar/Wind power could be the next claim..
I mean really you could pay those lawyer an extra $1000 an hour to include that.
It just makes sense.. Well as much sense as any policy made these days..

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Abolish the Office of Treaty Settlements. Save millions & improve efficiency across NZ.

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Treaty Settlements are a peripheral issue here - the real priority is protecting our water so we can not only keep it clean enough to drink and swim in and continue to develop infrastructure for it and increase our ability for agriculture/horticulture and other industries to flourish. How can we balance these seemingly opposing needs? There needs to be collaboration across agencies to create this balance, so I applaud the fact that government are taking this issue seriously and committing to creating some solutions. The LAWF got work done with a plenary of over 40, so I think it's possible to achieve solutions with focus - which I believe there is.

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