IR­RAWADDY RIVER MUD

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Nick Smith was asked re­cently in Palmer­ston North why the Gov­ern­ment was not aim­ing for swimmable wa­ter­ways. He re­sponded that that ‘‘I do not think a le­gal re­quire­ment for ev­ery water body in New Zealand to be swimmable is prac­ti­cal’’.

In say­ing so he ab­di­cates his en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Of course it isn’t prac­ti­cal with a weak, de­featist at­ti­tude like that, along with a strong bias to gov­ern­ment’s cor­po­rate bed­fel­lows in the dairy­ing in­dus­try. Even Kiwi fam­ily farm dairy farm­ers gen­er­ally ab­hor the cor­po­rate dairy struc­ture and cul­ture.

And why did gov­ern­ment do a state takeover of the for­merly demo­crat­i­cally elected En­vi­ron­ment Canterbury? Sim­ply to ex­pe­dite water con­ces­sions of the pub­lic’s water.

Not that it comes as any sur­prise. It was En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Smith just months ago, who along with cabi­net col­league Amy Adams leg­is­lated a low­er­ing of water stan­dards for rivers from ‘‘swimmable’’ to ‘‘fit for wad­ing and boat­ing.’’ Now you could wade in a cesspool in fish­ing waders and most cer­tainly you could boat.

Smith seems bereft of any en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­log­i­cal con­science.

Be­cause an ecosys­tem ap­proach is vi­tal, Smith should be tack­ling the prob­lem by hav­ing river qual­ity rated di­rectly rel­a­tive to the health of aquatic in­ver­te­brate pop­u­la­tions.

Tony Or­man Marl­bor­ough

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