26 May 2016
The 2016 Budget continues the National Government’s disgraceful underfunding of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and puts our precious flora and fauna at risk, the Green Party said today.
Compared to last year’s Budget, DOC has been allocated nearly $40 million less, a cut of nearly nine percent. Compared to the last Labour budget’s DOC funding of $462 million (in real terms), this year’s budget is $32 million short.
“Over the last eight years of National budgets, DOC has missed out on $368 million of funding that could have been used to protect our native species, make sure our huts and tracks are up to scratch, and ensure that bridges and viewing platforms are safe,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“Funding for our native species and the places they live has been reduced by $27 million – a 14 percent cut.
“We can’t protect our species and restore their habitats with cuts like this. We can’t improve the situation for the hundreds of threatened and at-risk species that we could lose under this Government’s watch with cuts like this.
“One hundred and forty-two species have had their threat status slide closer to extinction under National’s watch. We can’t help those species recover with cuts like this.
“The Government has announced $16 million over four years to control wilding pines, but the Government knows that it needs to spend a lot more than that to counter the worst weed problem Aotearoa New Zealand faces.
“The Green Party will restore DOC funding to pre-National levels to ensure that our native species are protected. We will invest in huts, tracks, bridges and viewing platforms that are all safe and up to scratch. We will do what’s right by our environment, which is what New Zealanders want and expect from their government.
“New Zealand can have thriving ecosystems and native species, but it’s essential DOC is funded properly to help make that happen – or we risk losing those species and ecosystems forever,” said Mr Hague.