National says Greens’ clean river policy is twisting facts in pursuit of anti-jobs agenda

Environmental Minister Amy Adams
Russel Norman

The government has come out against the Greens’ latest policy saying it’s the latest step in their anti-job, anti-growth, stop everything manifesto.

Environmental Minister Amy Adams has criticised the Greens’ policy to ensure New Zealand’s rivers are clean enough to swim in, saying it’s costly and impractical.

“Approaching improvement through blanket bans and requirements for every drainage ditch across New Zealand to be maintained at a swimming pool standard just shows that the Greens have once again confirmed they are the anti-growth Party.”

She says they clearly haven’t thought through the consequences.

“The Greens need to explain where they will find the billions of dollars of costs and lost revenue it could take to make every single centimetre of New Zealand’s 425,000 kilometres of rivers and streams suitable for swimming,” she says.

The Greens’ policy, announced over the weekend, is the first in a series of announcements to be made over the course of the election campaign in which they will outline the specifics of how they will clean up New Zealand’s rivers and protect the beaches.

This announcement includes establishing a protected rivers network, a set of robust standards which ensure rivers are clean enough for swimming and keeping New Zealand’s wild rivers wild by not building any new dams on them.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says New Zealand is now at “crisis point” but the Greens have a credible plan to make the countries rivers clean again.

"Latest figures show that nearly two-thirds of our monitored river sites are too polluted for swimming, one-third of our lakes are unhealthy and three quarters of our native freshwater fish are at risk of extinction.

"Successive Governments have overseen the significant deterioration in our water quality.

“National has established water rules that are so weak they would allow some of our rivers to have more nitrogen pollution than the famously degraded Yangtze River in China.”

Mr Adams says this is once again Mr Norman is attempting to mislead New Zealanders by comparing nitrogen settings in the new National Freshwater Standards to the Yangtze river.

She says the government’s approach to raising freshwater standards is much more pragmatic.

“Our approach will ensure that for the first time New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

“Rather than stopping water use, National’s plan is about ensuring it is used responsibly in a way that provides for the needs of our people now, and into the future.”

What do you think? Do you think 'rivers clean enough to swim in' is a realistic target for New Zealand? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

Jason Walls is an AUT journalism student

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