Pe­ti­tion on mass ir­ri­ga­tion pre­sented to gov­ern­ment

Fiji Sun - - Aust/Nz News -

Al­most 70,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the New Zealand gov­ern­ment not to back away from its com­mit­ment to re­duce mass ir­ri­ga­tion. While the new Labour-led gov­ern­ment has de­cided to scrap fund­ing for new ir­ri­ga­tion schemes, con­cern re­mains that some schemes will still pro­ceed un­der fund­ing from the Re­gional Devel­op­ment Fund.

The pe­ti­tion was pre­sented by Green­peace to En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter David Parker and As­so­ciate Min­is­ter Eu­ge­nie Sage out­side Par­lia­ment this af­ter­noon. Mr Parker said the gov­ern­ment would be hon­our­ing ex­ist­ing ir­ri­ga­tion schemes started un­der the pre­vi­ous Na­tional-led gov­ern­ment but would not fund any new ones.

“We should not be sub­si­dis­ing ir­ri­ga­tion schemes which we know lead to in­creased in­ten­sity of land use which adds to the prob­lem.” He said there could be a “per­fect out­come” for farm­ers and for wa­ter-qual­ity, if New Zealand did not rely so heav­ily on dairy ex­ports.

“There is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity for New Zealand to move towards high­er­value land uses, other than live­stock, in parts of New Zealand.”

He added that greater use of tech­nol­ogy could foster di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. “If we can use ro­bot­ics and sen­sor tech­nol­ogy, our won­der­ful soil and our grow­ing tech­niques to bring for­ward more prof­itable land uses that have a lower en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact we will get richer as a coun­try, the same time we get cleaner.” He was un­sure whether new ir­ri­ga­tion schemes could be ap­plied for un­der the Re­gional Devel­op­ment Fund.

“That’s the con­ver­sa­tion we’d like to have with this in­com­ing gov­ern­ment.”

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