The Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund, announced in the Budget, will do little to make New Zealand’s rivers safe to swim in because the money can be used to fund irrigation schemes that will ultimately harm the environment, the Green Party said today.
“The Government is spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on clean-up while at the same time subsidising further pollution. It makes no sense,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“The Government’s view of water is that both the quality and quantity should be pushed to the limit to make money.
“While the Government is bragging that it’s putting more money into water clean-up, there’s still another $100 million in the Budget to fund environmentally harmful irrigation schemes through Crown Irrigation Investments, and even more up for grabs to irrigators through the Freshwater Improvement Fund that should be used to make our rivers safe for swimming again.
“The Government is staying very quiet on the fact that money earmarked for water clean-up can also go towards irrigation schemes that will do nothing to improve the health of our waterways, but harm them even more.
“Protecting the health, mana and swimmability of a river is secondary to making a quick buck under this Government.
“One hundred million dollars looks impressive, but the funding is meagre over ten years. This year it will only get $2.5 million, with $10 million not released until 2019/20.
“Throwing money at clean-up programmes does not address the overall problem of poor water quality.
“The Green Party will put a moratorium on dairy conversions, stop government subsidies for irrigation, support tangata whenua participation and leadership in resolving water issues, and prevent wastewater and stormwater pollution through a range of measures,” said Ms Delahunty.