Budget 2017 continues the National Government’s shameful underfunding of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and puts our precious flora and fauna at risk, the Green Party said today.
DOC will have $26 million less this year to invest in protecting nature than it did in 2009. This amounts to a cumulative budget cut of $422 million to Vote Conservation since National took office. These numbers have been provided by the Parliamentary Library and adjusted to account for inflation.
“National have short-changed nature again in Budget 2017,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Mojo Mathers.
“Over the last eight years of National budgets, DOC has missed out on $422 million of funding that could have been used to protect our native species, build new tracks, and keep our huts up to scratch.
“Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has sadly failed to secure the level of significant new funding needed for the job of protecting our birds and restoring our most precious wild spaces.
“One-off funds during beech mast years do not replace the need for a sustained increase in core DOC funding. Both are needed for effective protection of our native species.
“This is the same Minister who is also failing to stop coal mining in the conservation estate and deep sea oil drilling in the Maui dolphin sanctuary.
“Protecting nature should be properly funded like any other core government service like health, education, and the police.
“We can’t protect our species and restore their habitats with shortfalls like this. We can’t improve the situation for the hundreds of threatened and at-risk species that we could lose under this National Government.
“The Green Party will restore DOC funding to pre-National levels to ensure that our native species are protected. We will invest in robust population monitoring, front-line rangers and predator control. 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 Ms Mathers.