Archive

Posts Tagged ‘river pollution’

Media bullsh*t vs the Bovine variety

.

 

.

A case in point where the media can misrepresent what an elected representative  has stated occurred immediately after Corin Dann interviewed Environment Minister, David Parker, on 6 May, on TVNZ’s Q+A;

.

David Parker and Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A, 6 May 2018

.

The interview itself was professional, with Dann asking pertinent questions and drilling down into Minister Parker’s stated objective to reduce agricultural pollution of our waterways.

Corin Dann asked;

“So an admirable goal, but the question is — how will you do it? Now, you have a— you’ve talked about beefing up the current guidelines, the national policy statement on water. How far will you go? And I guess the key question is here — will you cap the number of cows that can be in a certain paddock, depending on nutrient levels? In other words, potentially force farmers to destock?”

To which Minister Parker replied;

“Well, cow numbers have already peaked and are going down, but yes, in some areas, the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.”

Note the Minister’s carefully chosen words;

“…the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.”

Minister Parker flatly rejected “ a raw cap on cow numbers” – explaining “it will be done on nutrient limits“.

For a politician, it was a remarkable moment, providing a clear-cut answer to a crucial question. (How many National Ministers have ever given such an unambiguous response?)

How did the rest of the mainstream media report Minister Parker’s comments?

Dishonestly.

TVNZ – Q+A’s broadcaster – presented Minister Parker’s position on the same day as the programme was aired, with this stunningly inaccurate headline and lead-paragraph;

.

.

Despite Minister Parker’s categorical statement that reducing effluent-pollution “won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits” – TVNZ chose to misreport the Minister’s position. Anyone who had not watched/listened to Minister Parker’s original interview would inevitably have concluded that cow-reduction was on Minister Parker’s main agenda.

Later that same day – 6 May – Radio NZ also misrepresented Minister Parker in an online article headline and lead-paragraph;

.

.

However, the author of the Radio NZ write-up could not have been ignorant of Minister Parker’s stated position, because the second paragraph read;

Environment Minister David Parker said there wouldn’t be a direct cap on the number of cattle, but instead work was being done on restricting the amount of nutrients being lost from farm to waterway.

Two day later, the Otago Daily Times followed suit;

.

.

– though in a stunning exercise in double-think, the un-named Editorial-writer presented two conflicting statements of Minister Parker’s position;

At the weekend, Mr Parker indicated he wants fewer cows per hectare because the number now is higher than the environment can sustain.

This will not be done through a raw cap on cow numbers. Instead, it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrients that can be lost from a farm to a waterway.

It was clear from on-line stories that the mainstream media were finding difficulty in reporting Minister Parker’s statements. After all, how could effluent be reduced with reducing cow numbers?

Despite the Minister stating without ambiguity that he was targetting “the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue” – the msm couldn’t seem to get their heads around that concept.

How could effluent be reduced without cutting cow numbers?

Canterbury dairy farmer, Willy Leferink, offered one solution;

Mr Leferink said he had built a large hangar-like barn on his land to house his cows at certain times during winter which would collect and treat their waste instead of it dropping straight onto paddocks.

It’s bad enough when a politician misrepresents a situation. Former Dear Leader John Key built quite a reputation around misrepresentation; omission; bending the truth; and some outright lies.

But we expect more from our media.

If an elected representative expresses a clear direction, the correct response of the media is to report it fairly to the public. Question; probe; and doubt, by all means. Look behind the facade. Follow-up. Do the stuff we expect from the Fourth Estate.

But do not misreport.

Misquoting or misreporting adds nothing to the sum total of informed discourse.  It only reaffirms suspicion that the media cannot be trusted.

For when the media that has exhausted its trust with the public, the road to political corruption and the rise of demagoguery becomes easier to travel.

Aesop’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a fable about loss of credibility that is as valid now as it was 2,600 years ago.

.

.

.

References

Scoop media: TVNZ Q+A – Minister David Parker interviewed by Corin Dann (transcript)

TVNZ: Environment Minister admits some dairy farmers may have to reduce cow numbers under tough new waterway pollution rules

Radio NZ: Farmers may be forced to reduce cattle numbers

Otago Daily Times: Fewer cows no easy task

Radio NZ: Moves made to reduce runoff already – farmers

Wikipedia: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

When the mainstream media go feral

Only four years too late – TVNZ-Colmar Brunton catch up with The Daily Blog

Worse than “fake news” – sloppy news!

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part tahi)

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part rua)

.

.

.

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 May 2018.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

Drinking river water – Tourism NZ puts visitors at risk

21 July 2017 3 comments

.

 

.

When it comes to irresponsibility and incompetence, we are well used to National’s performance over the last eight years. Homelessness and rising unaffordability, under-funding in healthcare and education; corporate subsidies; wasting taxpayers’ money on pointless exercises; increasing environmental degradation; uncontrolled migration to prop up a lack-lustre economy; and more scandals than we can recall – are National’s track record since 2008.

Up till now, National’s ineptness has impacted only on New Zealanders.

But not content with policies that have impacted harshly on a wide sector of the local population, National has now set its sights on how to screw up  visiting tourists;

.

.

While concerns grow about the health of New Zealand’s waterways – including the potential for reputational damage – it has not changed the way the country presents itself to the world.

The latest “100% Pure” campaign, released last week, shows a tourist drinking water from a river, something that would be dangerous in parts of the country.

Tourism New Zealand is a government-owned and operated Crown Entity;

Tourism New Zealand is a Crown Entity funded by the New Zealand Government and established under the New Zealand Tourism Board Act 1991. We are led by a Board of Directors appointed by the Minister of Tourism and have a team of around 150 staff in 13 offices around the world. From humble beginnings, we are now the oldest tourism marketing department in the world.

The current Minister of Tourism is Paula Bennett. The same Minister who once advocated contraception for beneficiaries as some kind of ‘cure’ for sole-parenting.

A major aspect  of Tourism NZ’s advertising campaign involves the “100% Pure” theme – a claim largely ridiculed and dismissed by most New Zealanders as a bad-taste joke;

.

.

As at 15 July, around 245,000 views have been made of the video on Tourism NZ’s Facebook page;

.

.

Interestingly, whilst the woman in the image is depicted as scooping up the water and raising it toward her face, the video switches scene before her hands reach her face.

Obviously the producers of this video were not prepared to risk the woman’s  health by actually expecting her drink the water.

For good reason.

Many of New Zealand’s waterways are polluted to varying degrees by urban and dairying run-off. In 2013, the Environment Ministry reported that 61% of monitored rivers in New Zealand were unsafe for swimming. Waterways were either “poor” or “very poor” quality.

Ministry data showed that the worst performing  regions were also heavy dairy farming regions. Nine waterways in Canterbury rated “very poor”. Manawatu-Whanganui, Southland, and Taranaki had seven waterways listed as “very poor”. Hawkes Bay and Wellington had five each.

.

.

Drinking  water from our lakes, rivers, and streams is a hazardous activity in 21st Century New Zealand. There is the risk of  infection; serious illness, and perhaps death from toxic algae, giardia, e.coli, campylobacter, etc.

Statistics NZ has a convenient map of e.coli levels throughout the country;

.

.

Most New Zealanders are now aware of the serious health-risks posed by our polluted waterways – especially as urban populations and  dairy farming has increased  in the last nine years.  We have people like Dr Mike Joy, Massey University’s freshwater ecologist, to thank for breaking the silence on our polluted waterways;

.

Dr Mike Joy – Massey University freshwater ecologist

.

Dr Joy’s  revelations were unpopular with many in the business world and right-wing politics. People like National Party supporter and corporate lobbyist, Mark Unsworth,  bitterly attacked Dr Joy in a vitriolic email in November 2012;

.

From: Mark Unsworth [mark@sul.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:15 a.m.
To: Joy, Mike
Subject: Ego Trip

Dear Dr Joy
Is your ego so great that you feel the need to sabotage all the efforts made by those promoting tourism in NZ because of your passionate views on the environment ?
You have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly .
Letting your ego run riot worldwide in the manner you did can only lead to lower levels of inbound tourism.

You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge ,but to others this affects income and jobs.
Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York .And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate
Cheers
Mark Unsworth”

.

Unsworth was not attacking Dr Joy for incorrect facts. Unsworth was attacking Dr Joy for making public true facts.

Even our former esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, was dismissive of the scientist’s warnings;

“He’s one academic, and like lawyers, I could provide you another one that’ll give you a counter-view.”

Since then, the demonisation of Dr Joy has been replaced with understanding and acceptance. Like climate-change, river and lake pollution will not conveniently ‘go away’ if we ignore it. The consequences of ignoring the problem will be severe for us, and the environment, as the OECD warned us just this year;

New Zealand’s environment is under increasing stress due to an economy reliant on primary industries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says.

It appeared to be resulting in environmental trade-offs, which put the country’s “green” reputation at risk, it said.

In a just-released report, the OECD urged New Zealand to come up with a long-term vision to transition to a greener, low-carbon economy.

[…]

New Zealand’s environment is under increasing stress due to an economy reliant on primary industries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says.

It appeared to be resulting in environmental trade-offs, which put the country’s “green” reputation at risk, it said.

In a just-released report, the OECD urged New Zealand to come up with a long-term vision to transition to a greener, low-carbon economy.

[…]

It detailed the environmental impact of farming intensification, and warned freshwater pollution would continue under current economic growth plans.

New Zealand’s nitrogen balance had worsened more than any other OECD country between 1998 and 2009, primarily due to farming intensification.

Unfortunately, the best efforts of the Green Party to turn back the tide of water-pollution has often been stymied by intransigence and self-interest in  Parliament.

In October 2012, Green MP Catherine Delahunty’s private member’s bill – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill – was drawn from the Ballot. The Bill would have reduced the amount of time that discharges could be made into our rivers “in exceptional circumstances”. (Yes, industries are allowed to discharge waste into our waterways! Who knew!?)

.

Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

.

As reported in the NZ Herald in October 2012;

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said her member’s bill, which has passed its first reading, sought to close a loophole in the Resource Management Act that allowed contaminating discharges with toxic effects and discolouration of waters under “exceptional circumstances”.

Ms Delahunty said the phrase included no timeframe, and had been used to justify long-term pollution of some waterways and coastal areas.

Her bill would limit its use to five years.

Ms Delahunty’s Bill was voted down at it’s Second Reading by National (59 votes); NZ First (7 votes); ACT (1 vote), and  Peter Dunne.

This means that a company such as Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill is legally entitled to continuously dump pollutants into the Tarawera River in the Bay of Plenty. The rationale is that the mill hires local people, so pollution is a “necessary evil”. (Ironically, the products are then shipped back to Norway, which also portrays itself as “clean and green”.)

The Tarawera River’s nick-name is “The Black Drain“.

So our rivers and lakes will continue to be fouled by agriculture, dairying, industry, and urban activity.

Meanwhile, a government Crown Entity blithely produces and promotes a video depicting a woman drinking from one of our waterways.

What tourists don’t understand is what may be lurking up-river, just out of sight around the next bend;

.

.

Note the brown stain flowing from the cow.

What might that be?

Now look at what National, via Tourism NZ, is promoting as safely drinkable.

.

.

New Zealand should post a Health Warning at every airport terminal.

Preferably before someone gets seriously ill. Or dies.

.

.

.

References

Fairfax media:  New ‘100% Pure’ campaign shows tourist drinking river water

Tourism NZ: About

Radiolive:  Will free contraception for beneficiaries improve society?

Tourism NZ: Welcome to New Zealand

Facebook: Tourism NZ

Fairfax  media:  Many NZ rivers unsafe for swimming

Statistics NZ: River water quality – e.coli

Facebook:  Russel Norman – Mark Unsworth’s email

Fairfax media:  Are NZ politicians joining the international tide of post-truth politics?

Fairfax media:  Farming, emissions and waste putting NZ’s ‘green’ reputation at risk, OECD says

NZ Herald: Bill aims to plug pollution loophole

Parliament: Vote – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill — Second Reading

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Special report – how polluted are New Zealand’s rivers?

Green Party:  The Taniwha of the Tarawera

Radio NZ:  Cattle in Otago rivers OK – DoC

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t

TDB Investigation into what is happening in our water

Election ’17 Countdown: The Promise of Nirvana to come

.

.

.

Nick smith another swimmable river

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 July 2017.

.

.

= fs =

Election ’17 Countdown: The Promise of Nirvana to come

5 March 2017 8 comments

.

(Or, “The Duplicities of Dr Smith: Dirty rivers, Dubious standards, and Double-talk” )

.

23-september-2017-elections-nz

.

“…We should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.” – John Key,

.

__________________________

Water Quality & Shifting Goal Posts

__________________________

On 23 February, Faux-Environment Minister, Dr Nick Smith, announced a seemingly “bold” plan to clean up New Zealand’s waterways by 2040;

.

new-government-target-to-see-90-per-cent-of-rivers-and-lakes-swimmable-by-2040

.

The Government has announced a new target to have 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers reach swimmable water quality standards by 2040.

The target will be based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time in line with European and United States definition, Environment Minister Nick Smith said.

Currently 72 per cent by length meet that definition and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040.

Faux-Environment Minister  Smith tried to re-assure New Zealanders;

“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug.

This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

A day later, on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report’, however, his assertions were taken to task with a more critical style of interviewing by Susie Ferguson.

Smith claimed that new levels of e.coli contamination were set to international standards;

“The level, the 540 e.coli, is the level that is set by the World Health Organisation, it the level that is set both by the E.U. and by the U.S.”.

Ferguson challenged Smith’s assertions by pointing out that other international organisations and jurisdictions held lower e.coli level for permissible contamination levels. At one point she asked the Faux Minister for the Environment how  rivers currently rated as “swimmable” will now be able to have twice the amount of faecal matter in it and still remain safe to swim in.

Smith’s reply was waffly, suggesting that Ferguson was attempting to mix “Medians” and “95 percentile” figures. He ducked Ferguson’s question.

Green Party water-spokesperson,  Catherine Delahunty, pointed out that National had simply re-designated pollution levels by “shifting the goalposts“;

“The Prime Minister thinks he can pull a fast one on New Zealanders by just shifting the goalposts and calling what was ‘wadeable’ now ‘swimmable’.”

The Fairfax article in which Delahunty made the accusation did not disclose what “goalposts”  she was referring to.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, also referred to a shifting of “goalposts”;

“There have been some goalposts moved, or some ways of measuring things moved, and it’s very difficult to tell whether things are being tightened or loosened. That’s a big concern of mine.”

Radio NZ reported Dr Wright as being highly critical that the 90 percent target-catchment included  waterways that no-one would swim in, such as  rivers in very remote/very cold regions of New Zealand;

“It’s where do people want to swim and at what time of the year … There’s sort of a dilution that’s gone on by putting the whole length of these rivers in, and the whole areas of these lakes.”

There was  further evidence of “shifted goalposts” to come…

.

vital-statistics-1

.

ref

.

__________________________

Media Analysis & What was left out

__________________________

When Faux-Environment Minister  Smith announced a grandoise “plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug“, he omitted to mention a salient fact.

Radio NZ’s Environment & Conservation Reporter,  Kate Gudsell, reported on the morning of 24 February  (the day after Faux-Environment Minister  Smith made his much heralded announcement;

The government has weakened the threshold for what qualifies as the best quality waterway to swim in as part of its target to make 90 percent of New Zealand’s rivers swimmable by 2040.

Under the old system, for a waterway to be considered the best for swimmability the acceptable level of E coli was less than 260 per 100ml of water.

That equated to a low risk of infection, up to 1 percent, when a person was taking part in activities that were likely to involve full immersion.

Now, the government has changed the whole system so that for a waterway to be considered excellent it cannot exceed a new E coli level of 540 per 100ml [of water]  more than five percent of the time, which equates to a less than five percent risk of infection.

To give waterways an “Excellent” rating, National has more than doubled the permissable level of e.coli bacteria in a given river or lake from 260 per 100ml of water to 540 per 100ml of water.

When pointedly asked by a journalist that “the Ministry of Health recommendation is 260 E.coli – how does that relates to the 540 level?“, Smith tried the “baffle-them-with-bullshit-science” response;

“We are saying at 540 E.coli the risk is one in 20 (of getting sick).  But that one in 20 is at the 95 per cent confidence level. So there is an extra level of cautiousness. Even if you put 20 people in water and it has a 540 E.coli level it’s not saying on average one person gets sick out of 20. It’s saying one in 20 of 20 groups will have one in 20 get sick.”

Smith’s “ one in 20” explanation was so confusing, he ludicrously managed to  contradict himself on Radio NZ;

Under the old system, for a waterway to be considered the best for swimmability, the acceptable level of E coli was less than 260 per 100ml of water.

That equated to a low risk of infection, up to 1 percent (one in 100), when a person took part in activities likely to involve full immersion.

Under the new system, for a waterway to be considered excellent it could not exceed an E coli level of 540 per 100ml more than 5 percent of the time.

That equated to a less than a 5 percent (one in 20) risk of infection.

When it was put to him that the new swimmable standard allowed for one in 20 people to become sick, Mr Smith said, “That is junk science”.

Even Smith can’t keep up with his own bullshit.

Unfortunately, not all media reports (initially) referred to National shifting the e.coli goalposts from  260 per 100ml of water to  540 per 100ml of water; such as Fairfax’s “New Government target to see 90 per cent of rivers and lakes ‘swimmable’ by 2040“; Radio NZ’s  “Govt plans to make 90% of NZ waterways swimmable by 2040“; TVNZ’s “Govt wants to make 90% of lakes and rivers clean enough to swim in by 2040“; and NBR’s “Government bows to pressure, adopts ‘swimmable’ target for lakes and rivers“.

The public reading those stories would not have realised that National was effectively doubling the permissable level of e.coli contamination in our waterways.

However, TV3 News (“Govt aims to get 90pct of rivers swimmable by 2040“) and NZ Herald (“Government sets 2040 ‘swimmable’ rivers target“), got it right on the first day (23 February).

To be fair, National’s media release on 23 February – “90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040”  –  was also missing the crucial detail of e.coli levels being increased.

It was a detail which the Faux-Environment Minister did not want publicised, when he fronted up to the media on the 23rd.

Interestingly, commentors on Stuff.co.nz and NBR seemed very aware on 23 February that Smith was trying to pull a ‘fast one’ over the public’s and media’s eyes;

.

nbr-comment-posted-23-february-2017

.

stuff-comment-posted-23-february-2017

.

(Note “Two days ago” correlated to 23 February.)

.

vital-statistics-2

.

ref

.

______________________________

Past Targets & Election Year Gimmickery

______________________________

The 2040 “target” for supposedly cleaning up our rivers and lakes was not National’s first attempt at setting long-term goals.

National ministers have been setting target-goals for themselves as a kind of “feel good” story for the public. Usually these targets are released to the media in an election year. And usually the target dates are set years, if not decades, into the distant future.

Who can forget these targets;

In 2011 (election year!), National announced that New Zealand would be smokefree by 2025;

The Government has set a long-term goal of reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco availability to minimal levels, thereby making New Zealand essentially a smokefree nation by 2025.

In 2014 (election year!) and announced by Minister for Stomping on Crushed Cars, Anne Tolley, National set this ambitious target for themselves;

Reducing crime

Our aim

  • By June 2017, reduce the crime rate by 15%, reduce the violent crime rate by 20%, and reduce the youth crime rate by 25%.

  • By June 2017, reduce the re-offending rate by 25%.

Another target-goal, set in 2014 (election year!),  and announced by Social Welfare minister, Paula Bennett;

…has set a new target of getting benefit numbers from 295,000 to 220,000 by 2017 – a 25 per cent drop. She is also looking for a 40 per cent drop in youth on benefits – getting 21,000 more young people off the benefit.

And this one, released in June last year (strangely, not an election year);

New Zealand to be Predator Free by 2050

Prime Minister John Key has today announced the Government has adopted the goal of New Zealand becoming Predator Free by 2050.

[…]

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.”

The budget for this herculean feat to eliminate “rats, stoats and possums” from “every single part of New Zealand” was set at  an ‘extra’ $28 million (above $60 – $80 million already budgetted for pest control) – an amount which was derided for it’s utter inadequacy.

So how are we doing with these laudible, “feel good” target?

Not too well.

In 2015, a Fairfax story revealed that National’s ambitious goal to eliminate smoking from New Zealand was lagging far behind;

However as the deadline looms for Smokefree 2025 – a commitment by the Government to help reduce smoking to minimal levels in New Zealand in 10 years – anti-smoking organisations are calling for it to take bolder steps to preserve New Zealand’s position as a world-leader in the fight against tobacco.

[…]

Even the Ministry of Health admits it’s off track…

[…]

In New Zealand, tobacco manufacturers’ returns supplied to the Ministry show consumption has declined 6 per cent per year since 2010, or 23 per cent since 2010.

[…]

“At this rate, New Zealand will not meet the target of Smokefree 2025,” [Emeritus Professor at the University of Auckland Robert] Beaglehole said. “But it is achievable, and we know what to do to get back on track.”

Perhaps the worst target-goal that has failed was National’s (dubious) committment to cut large numbers from welfare benefits, as conceded by Anne Tolley in July 2016;

Anne Tolley has effectively conceded that National is unlikely to meet its objective of moving 65,000 people off the benefit within the next two years.

In excusing her government’s failure to meet one of their own self-imposed target-goals, Tolley gave this illuminating explanation;

“It’s a very aspirational target.”

Within those five simple words, Tolley has revealed the the eventual outcome and excuse whenever one  of National’s target-goals fails: they are only “aspirational”.

This is critical, because like the “Predator Free New Zealand by 2050” or “90 per cent of rivers and lakes ‘swimmable’ by 2040”, the target dates for these goals to be accomplished are so far into the future that (a) no one will recall these committments being made (b) most National ministers who made them will be long-retired, residing in rest-homes and having drool wiped from their slack-jawed faces by under-paid caregivers or (c) dead.

In short, no one will ever be held to account for these failures of policy.

The great mistake made by National is that, at the beginning when they dreamed up these feel-good gimmicks, they set target-goal dates too close to the present. For example,  when John Key and Bill English published a document entitled “Better Public Services” in February 2014, issuing a whole raft of target-goals, they set the date for accomplishment at 2017  (for most, though not all).

That left National minister in office only three years later having to explain their failure to achieve their target-goals.

In Tolley’s case, she could only offer the lame excuse that they were “aspirational” goals  only.

As  Susie Ferguson pointed out to Nick Smith on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report;

“The long time frame of this though means  that you are going to  be long gone whether we see that this has happened or not.”

The ultimate Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card for a politician.

In the meantime – stay out of the rivers and lakes. Nick Smith has been seen bull-shitting in them.

.

vital-statistics-3

.

ref

.

.

.

References

Scoop media: John Key – Speech to the Bluegreens Forum

Fairfax media: New Government target to see 90 per cent of rivers and lakes ‘swimmable’ by 2040

Radio NZ: Nick Smith defends new swimming standard for rivers and lakes

Radio NZ: ‘Very confusing’: Watchdog critical of water quality changes

New Zealand Yearbook: 1984

Radio NZ: Water quality measure ‘less stringent’

Fairfax media: The new ‘swimmable’ fresh water target: Nick Smith defends his plan

Radio NZ: Water quality criticism based on ‘junk science’ – Nick Smith

NBR: Government bows to pressure, adopts ‘swimmable’ target for lakes and rivers

New Zealand Yearbook: 2008

Ministry of Health: Smokefree 2025

Beehive: Better Public Services

NZ Herald: National pledge to cut benefit numbers by 25 per cent

Beehive: New Zealand to be Predator Free by 2050

Fairfax media: Smokefree 2025, predator-free 2050 criticised for a lack of follow through

Beehive: New Zealand to be Predator Free by 2050

NZ Herald: Anne Tolley – Government’s benefits target ‘very aspirational’

Scoop media:  On The Nation – Lisa Owen interviews Bill English, Anne Tolley and Hekia Parata

Statistics NZ: Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2015

Additional

Fairfax: Cattle belonging to Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias’ repeat offenders

Scoop media: Swimmable rivers – Greenpeace says look below the surface

Scoop media: Big Backdown by Smith on Swimmable Rivers

Other Blogs

Green blog: Nick Smith thinks New Zealanders are stupid

Greenpeace: Don’t get freaked by the eco

My Thinks: Come swim with me

No Right Turn: A literal bullshit standard

The Civilian: What’s all the fuss about these rivers? I drank some water once and it wasn’t any bloody good

The Civilian: Government vows that by 2040, 90% of New Zealand’s rivers will be ‘vaguely liquid in nature’

The Daily Blog: National’s ‘swimmable’ rivers policy is another ‘alternative facts’ moment and why we can’t allow it

The Daily Blog: David Parker – Flammable rivers – Smith’s swimmable river con ignites outrage

The Standard: Just allow more shit – a metaphor for this government

Previous related blogposts

The law as a plaything

When spin doctors go bad

Congratulations Dr Smith!!

TDB Investigation into what is happening in our water

Election ’17 Countdown: The Strategy of Ohariu

Election ’17 Countdown: Joyce – let the lolly scramble begin!

.

.

.

nick-smith-dirty-rivers-water-pollution-1

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 February 2017.

.

.

= fs =

 

Congratulations Dr Smith!!

11 September 2016 3 comments

.

Dr Smiths

.

Congratulations are in order for Dr (Nick) Smith.

Not content with National’s default Blame-Game targets, Dr Smith has come up with an entire new scape-goat for National’s never-ending botch-ups; failed policies; scandals; mismanagement; under-funding; accident-prone Ministers; cronyism, and every other cluster-f*ck that a politician can conceivably come up with.

Up till now, National’s  favorite Default Deflection targets have been;

Deflection #1: The Previous Labour government done it

Never mind that National has been in power for nearly nine years, they can still point the finger at Labour for “the mess that they left us”. (“Mess” being record low unemployment; positive economic growth;  national debt paid down, and posting eight surpluses in a row. How many countries would love to have been bequeathed Labour’s “mess“?)

How that “mess” has survived unchanged and “fixed”,  by National,  throughout nearly a decade is never explained. Only Guyon Espiner on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘ cuts of Ministers when they attempt to resort to Deflection Number One, with an exasperation in his voice that would do the parent of a toddler proud.

The Housing crisis was a recent example of Deflecting blame to Labour;

.

housing-crisis-national-blame-game

.

Key’s latest exercise in responsibility-avoidance;

“Under the nine years that Helen [Clark] was Prime Minister, my friend, nationally house prices went up 102 percent. Under us in eight years, they’ve gone up 43. In Auckland they went up 87 percent I think – under us it’s about the same.

If it was a state of emergency now, a crisis now, why wasn’t it a state of emergency and a crisis then?”

Even the passing of National’s ill-fated synthetic drugs laws (later repealed as an utter legislative failure) was blamed on Labour;

.

labour-forced-our-hand-on-timing-key

.

Who would have thought that after eight years in Opposition, Labour still wields such powerful influence? Who thought it possible to govern from the Opposition benches?

Labour, take a bow.

Which is all rather ironic, as Dear Leader is pushing Heaven, Earth, and Planet Key to support Helen Clark as the U.N.’s next Secretary General;

“There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective.

Coming from New Zealand Helen Clark is well placed to bridge divisions and get results. She is the best person for the job.

I’ll do everything I can to get her over the line.

[…]

If Helen became the next secretary general of the UN New Zealanders would celebrate in the same way they celebrate Lorde for her singing and Lydia Ko in golf.”

Most people would say she was a very strong prime minister for nine years and she’s done a great job in the last seven years at UNDP.”

And subsequently;

“If they’re doing that, that is everything that’s wrong with the United Nations because, for goodness sake, let’s get the best person in the job…

[…]

I still think anyway if its a drag race between Kevin Rudd and Helen Clark, New Zealanders, and I reckon a hell of a lot of Australians, know who the best candidate is.”

Wow! Is this the same Prime Minister of a previous Labour government that Key blames all New Zealand’s economic and social woes?

Deflection #2: Welfare Beneficiaries/Housing NZ tenants done it

It’s the fault of those “lazy benes”. And/or Housing NZ tenants. It’s their fault that poverty has increased; wages have remained low; the income/wealth gap has widened; that there is over-crowding and homelessness.

Of course it’s their fault. Key said so;

“But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills. And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”

Didn’t you know that government social and fiscal policy is set by  WINZ beneficiaries  and Housing NZ clients?!

Deflection #3: The GFC/Great Recession/Overseas Events done it

Unemployment is still high (even with Statistics NZ fudging unemployment stats). It’s the GFC, stoopid, as Key pointed out;

“We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. We have had three terrible earthquakes in Christchurch. We have had the collapse of finance companies. We have had to bail out what is, in terms of the earthquakes, the single biggest economic impact on a developed economy as the result of a disaster. The public don’t agree with every decision… but I think they believe on balance it’s been a tough three years and we’ve handled most things well. The second thing is it’s all relative. Yes, our unemployment went to 7 per cent and now it’s 6.5, but in America it’s 9 per cent officially and 14 per cent unofficially and in Spain it’s 20 per cent… “

And,

“While I think we have to acknowledge that the last three years have been pretty tough with the Global Financial Crisis, on a relative basisNew Zealand’s been doing a better than a lot of other countries.”

Of course, Deflection #3 has a limited shelf-life, and sooner or later the public and media will wise-up to the fact that the Global Financial Crisis event was eight years ago.

Time for another handy international crisis?

Deflection #4: The Auckland Council/RMA done it

When it comes to Auckland-related problems such as housing unaffordability; homelessness, and over-crowding, the Nats have a geographic-specific Deflection solely set aside for that contingency;

.

Govt blames RMA Auckland Council sunspots

.

Very handy.

Deflection #4 is better than ‘Persil‘ at removing embarrassing and unsightly, Auckland-issue credibility stains…

But now, in a masterful, brilliant stroke of creative political bullshit-artistry, Dr Smith has come up with a brand new Deflection category.

Drum roll, please…

.

.

Deflection #5: The birds done it!

In a speech on 30 August, Dr Smith was at pains to rationalise away his government’s abject failure at cleaning up New Zealand’s heavily polluted waterways. His surrender to a future of rivers so contaminated with animal faeces and harmful micro-organisms that they can no longer be  swum in, was summed up when he lamented;

“A national requirement for all water bodies to be swimmable all of the time is impractical. Most of our rivers breach the 540 E. coli count required for swimming during heavy rainfall.”

The target to blame? Birds.

“We’ve got water bodies like the Washdyke Lagoon here in Canterbury and Lake Papaitonga in the Manawatu which are home to many birds whose E. coli make it impossible to meet the swimming standard without a massive bird cull.”

The… Birds!?!? Priceless.

Hear that, birds?!?! It’s all your fault!!

.

Dodo_Ice_Age_Adventures

.

Expect to hear more of Deflection #5 in future, as the chorus of complaints about our rivers and lakes continues to grow.

Never let it be said that National cannot find a convenient target to deflect blame onto, whenever a situation demands it;

.

national-and-john-key-blames

.

Obviously, any chance of National taking responsibility for the mis-management of our waterways is… for the birds.

But the public, the media, and environmental groups will not allow Smith to escape his responsibilities. He will be held to account and reminded of his failures at every turn. Like New Zealand’s polluted, unswimmable  waterways, his Environmental portfolio has become utterly toxic.

We can hear Dr Smith now; “Oh, the pain, the pain

 

.

.

References

Hive News: Hive News Tuesday – Key blames ‘Dirty Politics’ for lack of state house sale debate

Reuters: NZ Prime Minister says central bank should get on with housing measures

Parliament Today: Housing NZ’s Woes Blamed on Labour

TV3 News: Housing blame game flares up in Parliament

NewstalkZB: Govt accused of blaming Auckland Council for its own failings on housing

Sharechat: Key blames Labour for barrier to foreign buyer ban

Youtube: Bill English Blames Greens for Housing Crisis

TV3 News: John Key blames Helen Clark for housing crisis

Radio NZ: Labour forced our hand on timing – Key

Fairfax media: Government backs Helen Clark for top UN job 

Fairfax media: John Key – Don’t write Helen Clark off yet, after UN polling

NZ Herald: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Dominion Post:  View from the top

Fairfax media: Key and Goff Q&A – Creating jobs

NZ Herald: Minister blames RMA for land price rise in Auckland

Fairfax media: Council blamed for Auckland housing delays

Beehive.govt.nz: Improving freshwater management

Other Blogs

Greens: Swimmable Rivers tour – Waikirikiri/Selwyn

No Right Turn: Lowering expectations

No Right Turn: So much for 100% pure

The Daily Blog: When Nick Smith said making every river swimmable ‘was not practical’ did a little bit of you die?

The Standard: Water quality too important for bird-brained excuses

Previous related blogposts

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

John Key – Practicing Deflection 101

When National is under attack – Deflect, deflect, deflect!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

.

.

.

yellow-crosses1

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 September 2016.

.

.

= fs =

New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t

26 August 2016 5 comments

.

70 percent pure NZ

.

“…We should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.” – John Key,

.

Vital Statistics 1

.

ref

.

In September 2008, one month before the general election, National’s leader addressed the party’s “Bluegreen* Forum“, asserting;

“What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage.  

New Zealand will need policies that make the most of this trend.  This will be important for our trade prospects and for the way in which we grow our economy.   I’m confident that with the right policies New Zealand can make its environmental credentials an important part of its comparative advantage.”

.

Vital Statistics 2

.

ref

.

Nearly eight years later, Key’s fine speech on environmental protection has come to nought. Nearly eight years of National governance and – whilst ostensibly implementing “bluegreen” policies – we have recently witnessed the worst case of water contamination in modern New Zealand history;

.

havelock north water contamination

.

Until the evening of 19 August, people could only guess at the source of the campylobacter contamination. Though many – if not most – New Zealanders already held a suspicion at the back of their minds.

That suspicion became readily apparent;

.

Campylobacter most likely from livestock - Yule

.

According to the 19 August Radio NZ report – updated at 6.33PM;

Preliminary results from the tests carried out on the contaminated water have shown, while several strains of the bacteria were present, ruminants were the most likely source.

Wild fowl was also a possible source, but the report from Environmental Science and Research (ESR) said poultry was unlikely.

The institute said more analysis would be carried out next week before a final assessment of the source could be made.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said it was likely the previous weekend’s flooding had swept faeces from livestock into the water supply.

“It’s very hard to explain it in any other way. I’ve been a farmer, I’m an engineer, and it looks likely that somehow that has occurred.”

The chooks may be off the hook – but it seems that the cows have come home to roost (or whatever cows do when they “come home”); our dirty little secret is out in the open. We are a polluted nation, awash in animal faeces and the billions upon billions of microscopic organisms that inhabit each piece of animal dung.

.

Vital Statistics 3

.

ref

.

In December 2011, three years after Key addressed the so-called “Bluegreen Forum” and promised that  “National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans” – there were already suggestions that dairy farmers  were not compliant in keeping their livestock out of  waterways;

Dairy farmers have been accused of telling porkies to Fonterra about whether they are keeping stock out of waterways.

An Agriculture Ministry audit of the Clean Streams Accord shows that half of farms have complete stock exclusion.

This contrasts with Fonterra’s claim – based on farmers’ self-appraisal – that 84 per cent of farms are compliant.

Fish and Game leapt on the disparity, revealed yesterday in the accord’s report for the 2010-11 year.

Chief executive Bryce Johnson said it raised questions about the accuracy of all the other performance targets reported by the dairy industry to the public, politicians and the government’s Land and Water Forum.

“It’s a woeful indictment on the legitimacy of the accord, on dairying’s environmental performance over the past decade and particularly the industry’s claim that self-policing is the way towards achieving improved water quality,” he said.

At the time, Fonterra’ milk supply general manager Steve Murphy attempted to ‘spin’ the dairy industry’s way out of the discrepancy;

“Some aspects [of the ministry audit] are factual but there are also differences in the way measurements were made.”

Murphy even tried to make light of the situation with this bad-taste remark;

“We can all pooh-pooh the results but the reality is that progress is being made.”

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Willy Leferink, simply dismissed the report out-of-hand;

“If you look closely at that report you can pick holes in it, but to me, it also sends a clear message to get our respective farms in order.”

At the same time, environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy, condemned the so-called “clean, green” image that New Zealand was perpetuating.  At the 2011 Forest & Bird annual general meeting presentation, Dr Joy  called   our “100% Pure” advertising campaign  misleading and cited the data;

 

  • Almost all river quality monitoring sites show a worsening trend. 43% of them regularly fail to meet bathing standards, in many instances because faecal contamination levels are too high. Almost half our lakes are polluted by excess nutrients, or over-run by invasive fish. Sediment chokes all but one harbour, and estuaries.
  • By 2050, if the trend continues, we would have extinguished native fish in New Zealand. Five threatened species are commercially harvested; none have any legal protection.
  • 18,000-30,000 people contract waterborne diseases every year, from microbial contamination. Of the 70 “best” Waikato waterways, e-coli in more than 50 of them exceeds contact recreation levels.

 

Our esteemed Dear Leader responded with his usual facile glibness;

“Well, that might be Mike Joy’s view, but I don’t share that view. Like lawyers, I can give you one that will provide you with a counter-theory.”

When questioned further by the Dominion Post, Key’s tax-payer funded spokesperson responded with a curt;

“The prime minister does not share the view of Mike Joy, and has no further comment to make.”

Eight months after Key’s dismissal of Dr Joy’s warnings,  government scientists from NIWA were pointing out the dangerously degraded state of our waterways;

Water in Lake Horowhenua is so toxic that it could kill a small child, regional councillors have been told.

In certain conditions, and if cyanobacteria were present, the lake could be lethal to animals and small children, a scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Dr Max Gibbs, told Horizons Regional Council’s environment committee yesterday.

Dr Gibbs was presenting a selection of initiatives to help improve the water quality of the Levin lake, which is floating just off the bottom of the New Zealand lake-water quality rankings, sitting at 107 out of 116.

As our waterways were becoming toxic enough to potentially kill animals and small children, Key made what was perhaps the lamest, most pathetic rationale to justify continuing to use the “100% Pure” branding for our country;

“It’s like saying ‘McDonald’s, I’m loving it’ – I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it . . . it’s the same thing with 100% Pure. It’s got to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt.”

John Key was likening our environment to McDonalds – one of the world’s premier unhealthy fast-food producers.

.

mcshit_by_hornedquad-d32d7nv

.

Perhaps Key’s remarks were more appropriate than he realised at the time. At least he wasn’t blaming Labour or welfare beneficiaries this time;

“If . . . we should be 100% Pure and . . . there’s no economic activity . . . cavemen burning fires has a environmental impact.”

Worse was to come for Dr Joy’s admonitions to our poor environment track record.

On 21 November 2012, corporate lobbyist, Mark Unsworth, sent this scathing email, attacking the scientist;

From: Mark Unsworth [mark@sul.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:15 a.m.
To: Joy, Mike
Subject: Ego Trip

Dear Dr Joy
Is your ego so great that you feel the need to sabotage all the efforts made by those promoting tourism in NZ because of your passionate views on the environment ?
You have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly .
Letting your ego run riot worldwide in the manner you did can only lead to lower levels of inbound tourism.

You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge ,but to others this affects income and jobs.
Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York .And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate
Cheers
Mark Unsworth”

.

Corporate lobbyist, Mark Unsworth

Corporate lobbyist, Mark Unsworth

.

Unsworth’s hysterical outburst was a crass attempt to gag the scientist-messenger. At the same time the corporate lobbyist was demanding Dr Joy’s silence, the Ministry for the Environment released a report warning that half of New Zealand rivers were too dangerously polluted to swim in;

More than half of monitored recreational sites on our rivers are unsafe for swimming, a report has revealed.

The Ministry for the Environment’s latest report card – issued weeks before summer weather sends Kiwis flocking to the water – has left opposition parties questioning New Zealand’s 100 per cent pure brand.

The results showed water quality was poor or very poor at 52 per cent of monitored river sites.

A further 28 per cent were graded “fair” – with a risk of illness for those swimming there.

Only 20 per cent of monitored river recreation sites were graded good or very good.

Health effects from swallowing water tainted with faecal micro-organisms or other bacteria can be unpleasant. They include diarrhoea or vomiting, and infections of the eye, ear, nose and throat.

The report card canvassed sampling from 210 freshwater beaches, including lakeside areas, and 248 coastal beaches used for recreation that had been assigned grades based on monitoring data acquired over five summers.

It is unknown if Unsworth also sent a similar vitriolic email to the Ministry for the Environment.

Attempts in Parliament to clean up our waterways have been blocked by National and other parties.

In October 2012, Green MP Catherine Delahunty’s private member’s bill – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill – was drawn from the Ballot. The Bill would have reduced the amount of time that discharges could be made into our rivers”in exceptional circumstances”. (Yes, industries are allowed to discharge waste into our waterways! Who knew!?)

.

Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

.

As reported in the NZ Herald in October 2012;

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said her member’s bill, which has passed its first reading, sought to close a loophole in the Resource Management Act that allowed contaminating discharges with toxic effects and discolouration of waters under “exceptional circumstances”.

Ms Delahunty said the phrase included no timeframe, and had been used to justify long-term pollution of some waterways and coastal areas.

Her bill would limit its use to five years.

As further reported by Forest & Bird;

The most well-known case of the term “exceptional circumstances” being used loosely is where the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has allowed the Tasman Mill in Kawerau to discharge wastewater into the Tarawera River since 1995. In 2010, the mill used this clause of the RMA once more to obtain resource consents to keep discharging for another 25 years. That is, under section 107 (2)(a) of the Act, the mill has been consented to discharge to the river for a total of 42 years This is clearly not an exceptional circumstance but a case of a business-as-usual approach being used to exploit this loophole in the RMA.

The Bill passed it’s first reading and was sent to the Local Government and Environment Committee.

At it’s second reading it was voted down;

.

Ayes 51                                       New Zealand Labour 34; Green Party 14; Māori Party 2; Mana 1.
Noes 68                                       NZ National 59; NZ First 7; ACT  1; United Future 1.

.

It was disappointing and disturbing to see NZ First voting against Catherine Delahunty’s Bill.  At the time, NZ First justified voting down strengthening environmental protection for our waterways by invoking commercial imperatives;

“It was also interesting to note that very big signals were given in terms of the potential impact that this bill would have on the wider New Zealand economic development situation. If resource consents and permits of this nature were restricted to only 5 years for exceptional discharges, it would have a very adverse detrimental effect on investment and industry in this country. In the situation with Norske Skog, it had, just in the last few years, invested $50 million in a major new machine at the paper plant there—a very significant investment in a major piece of equipment. Had Norske Skog not had the extended permits, the parent company internationally would probably have made the decision not to invest that $50 million in New Zealand.”

As then-Co-Leader of the Green Party, Dr Russell Norman has pointed out;

“The natural environment makes New Zealand a great place to live. And it underpins our economy – tourists come here for the 100% Pure image, and Chinese parents feed their kids New Zealand infant formula because it’s clean, green and safe.

So you’d have to be a mug to attack the environment. Or a Cabinet minister, because since the last election that’s exactly what they’ve been up to.

They are using taxpayer money to subsidise the intensification of dairying agribusiness, intensification that will lead to more water pollution. According to the Ministry for the Environment most monitored rivers aren’t safe for swimming already.

Swimming in a river should be a birth right of New Zealand kids but it’s rapidly becoming a quaint historical oddity- “Hey dad did you really swim in that half drained contaminated cesspool when you were a kid?”

And sure agribusiness makes a quick buck selling milk powder to China, but what happens when Chinese parents find out that our rivers are becoming just as polluted as theirs? Will they still pay a premium for New Zealand food?

No environment, no economy.”

National’s response?

In March this year – as disaster loomed five months away for Havelock North – Environment Minister Nick Smith exposed National’s “Bluegreen” stance;

“I do not think a legal requirement for every water body in New Zealand to be swimmable is practical.  Our ambition is for a lot more areas to be swimmable… but we want to be practical.”

In effect, Smith admitted his government’s failure and surrendered New Zealand to a future of dirty rivers; dying lakes and undrinkable water.

Little wonder that stock belonging to Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias her businessman husband, Hugh Fletcher, were permitted to freely wade through Canterbury’s Lake Taylor, Hurunui river, and Lake Sumner despite abatement notices being issued  by ECan. An incident in January this year was repeated several times.

In one image, a cow was photographed wading through a river, a stream of brown ‘matter’ emanating from it’s rear;

.

cow in river - dame sian elias

.

The Station’s then-farm manager, Brian Anderson, called environmental rules  “ridiculous”.

Anderson’s lack of concern is by no means unique. Whether it be Key or Nick Smith, there is a distinctive short-sightedness that fails to see even into the very-near future when it comes to the negative implications of our dairy-intensive agri-economy.

The attitude of many (most?) in the farming sector, and their political-wing (the National Party), is to turn a blind eye to known environmental degradation; parrot “green” policies when under public or media scrutiny; and hope for the best.

None of which has come out well for this country.

Even the far-right blog, Whaleoil and it’s unhinged owner,  appears to belatedly understand the simple equation; Shit-Out (of the cow), Shit In (to our waterways);

.

the greens said this would happen - havelock north - water contamination

.

On 7 September, 2008, John Key said that “…we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

Indeed we should.

Thus far, by every measurement, including the polluted waterways of New Zealand and contaminated drinking water in Havelock North – National’s “environmental rhetoric” does not match its “environmental record”.

National has abrogated it’s responsibilities to safeguard our environment. Instead of placing priority on cleaning up our waterways, this is no longer “practical”, according to Nick Smith.

Instead, National has settled for second best.

When it comes to drinking water, second best is nowhere near good enough.

The frightening aspect to National’s indifference to our water quality and wider environmental concerns is not just the contamination of our water-supply. Nor our rivers, half of which are no longer of a swimmable standard.

No, the truly worrying possibility is when the international media will suddenly realise what has been happening in “clean, green” Aotearoa, and that our “100% Pure” brand is a clever scam.

When the documentaries exposing this lie begin to appear on TV screens in Britain, Europe, North America, and elsewhere,  our entire tourism sector will face a crisis. It will be a crisis not unlike the 1080 extortion-scare which impacted on our dairy exports to China two years ago,

.

Industry counts cost of 1080 threat

.

As the Radio NZ report said;

Dairy products are New Zealand’s biggest export earner with $14 billion’s worth leaving the country’s shores each year, and the industry says reputation is everything.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand chairman Malcolm Bailey said the threat cost the country millions of dollars.

The international community is already becoming aware that our reputation for being a supposedly “egalitarian” society is a myth and nothing more;

.

New Zealand's most shameful secret We have normalised child poverty

.

It is only a matter of time before the first foreign journalists and camera crews arrive on our shores. Only a matter of time before our dis-coloured rivers; semi-dead lakes; and cows wading and excreting into our waterways is all filmed. Only a matter of time before inhabitants of Havelock North are interviewed. Only a matter of time before a request for interviews with ministers land on their desks.

Only a matter of time.

Who will John Key blame then?

.

***Update**

Water contamination has spread to Hastings and Flaxmere;

.

TV1 News - Hastings, Flaxmere water supply found contaminated as infections rise

.

The TV1 report  also confirms the Radio NZ story that farm animal-faeces was most likely the source of contamination;

Dr Snee says the results of yesterday’s DNA testing of the contaminated water were inconclusive – meaning authorities are no closer to getting answers to just how the water became contaminated.

The tests show bovine contamination, so most likely to be from sheep, cattle or deer.

.

.

.

Addendum1

*  The Bluegreen Forum is the National Party’s pseudo-environmental “wing”. Realising that environmental protection was a critical ‘Achilles Heal’ of the National Party, the Bluegreen Forum was created so “that  environmental issues should not be monopolised by those on the left of the political spectrum“, as Key asserted in September 2008.

The “Bluegreens” are good at parroting environmental rhetoric.

By coincidence, or by supreme irony, blue-green is also the colour  of cyanobacteria, which can be a toxic consequence of heavily polluted waterways. According to Wikipedia;

Aquatic cyanobacteria are known for their extensive and highly visible blooms that can form in both freshwater and marine environments. The blooms can have the appearance of blue-green paint or scum.

.

.

References

Scoop media: John Key – Speech to the Bluegreens Forum

New Zealand Yearbook: 1984

New Zealand Yearbook: 2008

TV3: Campylobacter confirmed in Havelock North water, 4100 affected

NewstalkZB: Thousands affected by Havelock North water contamination

Fairfax media: Inquiry to be launched into Havelock North’s contaminated water

TV1 News: Hard-hit Havelock North residents ‘want answers’ over water contamination

Radio NZ: Govt rejects call for Hawke’s Bay water emergency declaration

Radio NZ: Campylobacter most likely from livestock – Yule

Statistics NZ: Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2015

Dominion Post: Fish and Game hits out at farmers

Forest & Bird: 2011 AGM – Dr Mike Joy

Dominion Post: Ecologist at odds with PM on 100% Pure NZ

Dominion Post: Worries over toxicity of lake

Fairfax media: ‘100% Pure’ is like McDonald’s ad, says Key

Facebook:  Russel Norman – Mark Unsworth’s email

NZ Herald: No swimming – 52% impure NZ rivers

NZ Herald: Bill aims to plug pollution loophole

Forest & Bird: Resource Management Amendment Bill

Parliament: Vote – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill — Second Reading

NZ First: Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill — Second Reading

RadioLive: Nats are sacrificing our environment… for what?

Fairfax media: Making every water body swimmable is ‘not practical’ – Nick Smith

Fairfax media: Cattle belonging to Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias’ repeat offenders

Fairfax media: More complaints about top judge Dame Sian Elias’ cows, but farm says rules ‘ridiculous’

Radio NZ: Industry counts cost of 1080 threat

The Guardian: New Zealand’s most shameful secret – ‘We have normalised child poverty’

TV1 News: Hastings, Flaxmere water supply found contaminated as infections rise

National: Bluegreen Forum

Wikipedia: Cyanobacteria

Other Blogs

Gordon Campbell on Havelock North’s water issues

Pundit:  Mike Joy answers the PM, with hard facts (2011)

The Civilian: Hastings gastro outbreak just marketing stunt to promote new documentary about Hastings gastro outbreak

The New Zealand story: 100% pooer! (2012)

The Standard: The Friday dump on Havelock North

Previous related blogposts

John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

When spin doctors go bad

.

.

.

milk prices-pollution

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 August 2016.

.

.

= fs =

Guest Author: A Citizen’s Submission on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme

– Paula Fern

.

milk prices-pollution

.

Plan Change 6 and RWSS Submission

Representation

Paula Fern

Introduction

.
My name is Paula Fern and I am a resident of Waipawa, where I’ve lived with my family since December 2011. My family ties to this area go back to my great great grandparents, James Davey and Susan Stubbs who originally settled in Dannevirke after the birth of their first child, my great grandmother Minnie, in Havelock North. This is my 9 year old daughter Marni who wanted to come along today so she could see for herself who would be responsible for deciding the fate of our river, the Waipawa. Your decision directly impacts the future of my children, and all the other kids in our community.

“Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au – I am the river, the river is me” is a true description as our water is daily a part of us; our townships water supply comes from two shallow bores adjacent to the Waipawa River. As such maintaining a healthy river is essential for our community.

According to the latest published compliance (1) our water supply is ungraded, and it doesn’t comply for E.coli or Protozoa, and no official P2’s, such as nitrates, are even tested for. In light of the current situation in Canterbury it would be appropriate to know what else we’re actually drinking.

As a family we spend a lot of time in and with our river, whether it’s walking with our dog, swimming, or fishing. Marni’s older brother is becoming quite the expert at enticing trout onto his line, and releasing them afterwards.

We realise how fortunate we are, being able to walk just down the road to what is a vital asset. It gives so much to us, and we believe that it should be protected and enhanced, not turned into a toxic dumping ground and over allocated for irrigation, which has been the fate of so many of our waterways. It will be the fate of many more if we don’t stand up and say no, and that’s the message I want to convey to you all; the risks of this particular proposal outweigh any perceived benefit.

Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme

The first part of my submission I’d like to speak about concerns the RWSS.

I am opposed to the dam in its entirety because of the unacceptable risk it exposes my community to, and other matters.

The first time this scheme impacted on me was when I went to see a local business to see if they had any part time work available and within 5 minutes I was told that if I didn’t support the dam then I wouldn’t be employed, and that the dam would be the saviour of businesses and retail in Waipukurau township. I was then shown a large map of the dam site. To say that I was left a little perplexed by the experience is an understatement. Apart from knowing that I couldn’t work there, I also knew that I would have to find out more about this golden goose.

It’s been a slow process as information hasn’t been overly forthcoming.

I was reading the Assessment for Environmental Effect in July 2013 when I read about the risk assessment for the dam. It made me take notice, and then I found the final draft of the Dam Break Analysis dated March 2013. Some facts that I instantly grasped were the Potential Impact Category (PIC) is High, the Population At Risk (PAR) is approximately 1000, so roughly half the population of Waipawa. But of course the location of those at risk isn’t exclusive to Waipawa, it includes those that are in the potential inundation path directly below the dam who wouldn’t have any warning or time to evacuate, and includes people in the Lindsay Road area of Waipukurau, and other low lying areas which are pointed out in the maps. It would affect the lower part of Waipawa, with depths up to 5 metres in some parts; there is no real difference between the Sunny Day failure as opposed to the Rainy Day.

There have been lots of words bandied about since, like the chances of failure are small, they build on fault lines all the time. From one now ex regional councillor when I asked his opinion of the potential dam failure, and pointed out the population at risk and that there is actually a fairly good chance that it will fail, his response was,

Well I guess they’d be dead, but we need the water.”

There are several questions that need to be asked; how would insurance be affected for those that own property in the zone? Will premiums go through the roof, or could insurance companies refuse to cover properties completely? Will house values fall, and will homeowners be able to sell with the potential risk hanging over their property? These are all unknowns because QVNZ and insurers won’t comment until a decision is made.

However I did contact a cousin who has been working in insurance on the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery. He asked if this will be noted on the district plan in the future, and noted against the property titles as being in a hazard zone. He also noted that a low-level flood would cause more damage from sewerage overflow and spread.

So why would it fail?

Earthquake:

The Dam is being built approximately 800m from the Mohaka Fault, which according to Kyle Bland of GNS is a “very, very active fault”. For a geologist charged with looking for oil and gas deposits that is probably a very good thing, but for building a major piece of infrastructure that can potentially kill a thousand people or more it’s not such a fantastic prospect. The Mohaka Fault, which is what the Makaroro reservoir would sit directly on top of, is classed as a 1 on the Recurrence Interval Class along with the Alpine and Wellington faults, which means a recurrence of under 2000years. The scale goes down to 6 which is a RI of between 20,000-125,000years.(2&3)

On the Civil Defence Hawkes Bay page there’s also some very clear information on potential earthquakes on the Mohaka fault(4) situated in the proposed dam site area over a 475yr return period, and 5000yr return. The 5000yr return represents the Maximum Credible Earthquake which has a Modified Mercalli Intensity(MMI) of 11, and a peak ground acceleration(PGA) of 1.1.

The description of a MMI 11 is that it’s Extreme. Few if any structures remain standing. There would be numerous landslides, with cracks and deformation of the ground.

A PGA of 1.1 is violent shaking and the potential damage is very heavy.

I’ve read the evidence of Trevor Matuschka, Philip Carter and Maria Villamor Perez. The specifications that they are quoting don’t appear to be of the degree of MCE that we are expecting. In Mr Carter’s evidence, 3.3

(a) The dam site is located around 750 m from the primary active Mohaka Fault which has an average recurrence of fault movement of around 1300 years and this together with other active faults in the vicinity, pose a credible shaking hazard to the dam site. GNS has recommended a maximum credible earthquake (MCE) of magnitude Mw 7.5, equivalent to 7.1 on the Richter scale. This would produce an estimated 84th percentile peak ground acceleration at the dam site of 0.77 g.

(b)The MCE is defined as the largest earthquake that can reasonably be expected to be generated by a specific source on the basis of the available seismological and geological evidence. It represents the earthquake hazard level used for design and evaluation of critical features of high hazard projects.

(c)Modern dam design guidelines, including the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD), adopt a two level design approach. A dam must be able to withstand the effects of earthquake shaking that could reasonably be expected to occur in the life of the dam with none or minimal, easily repairable damage. This level is known as the Operational Basis Earthquake (OBE) and is taken equal to earthquake shaking with an average return period of 150 years. The dam must also be able to withstand, without uncontrolled release of the reservoir, earthquake shaking associated with the earthquake source capable of generating the highest level of ground shaking at the site (in this case the Mohaka Fault). This is known as the Maximum Design Earthquake (MDE).

As the 5000yr return is considerably larger than this and could occur within the life of the dam then surely that is what should be the MDE, not what Mr Carter is quoting that GNS have recommended?

Can a dam be built to withstand an earthquake of this size?

How can the dam designers be confident their finalised design would survive such a catastrophic event?

As far as I know, there are no examples of a dam in this fault scenario surviving an earthquake of the magnitude expected. In fact I found a paper penned by the current and two former chairs of ICOLD, Martin Wieland, A. Bozovic and R.P Brenner (Mr Wieland is someone that Mr Matuschka refers to in his evidence several times) that also supports my assumption. In it they state,

As a general guideline, if significant movement along a fault crossing the dam site is accepted as a reasonable possibility during the lifetime of the dam, the best advice is to select an alternative site, less exposed to geodynamic hazard. Such standpoint is supported by the fact that no dam, foreseen to successfully survive the shearing action of a fault slip in its foundation, has ever been exposed to actual test under such event(10).”

This appears to contradict the evidence of Mr Matuschka, 2.2(iii) I consider a CFRD is a good option for the site. This type of dam is inherently capable of withstanding high levels of earthquake ground motion, the design can accommodate displacements, and even if the upstream concrete facing is damaged the embankment will not fail. Also in his evidence it is stated in a letter to Tonkin and Taylor under site selection, “there are no ideal dam sites in the project area.

There seems to be contradictions at every turn.

There has been an attempt by HBRC to show the effects on Waipawa should the dam fail and breach in the kind of earthquake which comes along once per century in these parts, but their downplaying publicly of the risk is irresponsible in my opinion. In the event of an earthquake we’re fortunate that our townships are small in that we have no high-rise buildings, and the majority of dwellings are wooden structures on raised foundations.

They crack but don’t tend to collapse like brick or concrete buildings. An EQC research paper I read from Dec 1995 reaffirms this,

Fortunately, except for the Wellington area these faults lie mostly on the eastern margin and within axial ranges. They pass mainly through farmland, areas of forestry and the Ruahine Range. It is possible that some farm houses in close proximity to the faults will receive damage but structures built on the fault may be ruptured or buried if in the path of any earthquake triggered landslides (7).”

The chances are that those in the identified inundation zone would survive, some may be trapped and/or injured in collapsed buildings, but they’d be alive. Add a wall of water to the scenario and the chances of survival lessen.

A more likely scenario than dam failure and inundation is that Reservoir Triggered Seismicity will cause an earthquake. Mr Carter, and Mr Matuschka refer to the Zipingpu Dam as being an example of a CFRD that has withstood a catastrophic earthquake. What they both failed to mention was that the Zipingpu, or specifically its reservoir, is held by many to be the cause of the Wenchuan Earthquake that it survived (5&6). Over 69,000 people were confirmed dead and over 18,000 were never accounted for as a result of the Mw7.9 earthquake that occurred on May 12, 2008.

It wasn’t the dam failing that killed these people; the area that the Reservoir Triggered Seismicity destroyed was far wider than a projected inundation path and as a consequence far more deadly and destructive.

The effects of this go much wider than just people in the way of a rush of dam water.

An earthquake from RTS is certain to be very shallow because of the way the fracture is triggered, so the surface shaking would be very intense and will certainly kill people.

Living in fear of a random dam break is one thing – why should we live in fear of an earthquake caused by the dam as well? It’s not right. I don’t think the risk has been investigated at all, and the risk is very real, no matter how much the promoters of the dam wish to downplay it. Who are these people to say we have to have it? Even if they are ok to be personally at risk they don’t speak for me, and for the sake of my family and my community, I’m not okay with this. Many of the people involved with this process do not have to physically live with the consequences, and I wonder how their perspective would alter if they did.

Why are we being used as guinea pigs?

Other Issues

Emergency Action Plan:

It hasn’t been written yet. Are there going to be sirens along the river? Is it going to be the volunteer fire fighters that would be expected to take on this duty too?

Final Design:

The fact that the design wouldn’t be completed until after consent was granted, and that HBRC and CHBDC would have the final say adds to my total lack of confidence that the design would come under enough scrutiny.

Creating a Low Wage Economy:

John Hayes National MP for Wairarapa column from June 5th,

Australian workers will get a 2.6 per cent rise to $A622.20 a week or $NZ750.50 at the prevailing exchange rate. That’s $A16.37 ($NZ19.75) an hour for Aussies’ 38-hour working week compared with $NZ13.75 an hour or $NZ550 for Kiwis’ 40-hour working week. I note that the Labour Party spokesperson on Labour issues is wringing her hands in despair at this news.

I think we should celebrate because a rise in the minimum wage in Australia makes our labour force more competitive and will be helpful in attracting investment and jobs to New Zealand. About 18 months ago CHB Mayor Peter Butler and I approached Australian based food processors with the suggestion of moving across the Tasman to establish plants in New Zealand to process food produced under newly irrigated areas.

We established that Australian food processors are interested to do this when our new irrigation is in place. A driver from the Australian perspective is that the New Zealand labour force is well educated, more productive and less unionised than their Australian counterparts. Getting our new irrigation schemes up and running is vital for our collective wellbeing. Irrigation and energy development will be real game changers for New Zealand.”

My interpretation of this column is that the local Mayor and the current MP both are promoting a low wage economy for Central Hawke’s Bay. If they were looking to the best interests of the community and wanted to revitalise retail then they should be encouraging innovative businesses here that pay their employees at the bare minimum a living wage. People on the minimum wage of $13.75 an hour are struggling to afford even the basics, there is no discretionary income, so supporting the flagging retail in Waipukurau definitely wouldn’t be on the agenda.

Other issues that concern me are the following, but have been covered extensively and very well by others so I’ll keep it brief:

Flushing Flows

Flushing flows imply to me that it’s moving the problem downstream, but it won’t make it magically disappear. Would the algae be carried all the way to the coastline, or would it end up being pushed into the bends in the river along the way?

I can see the increased amount of flow will create a danger for recreational users of the river, the swimmers and anglers. I’m also concerned about the birds like the Banded Dotterel that nest on the gravel islands.

Loss of Forest and threat to terrestrial ecology

Losing another piece of lowland forest and its biodiversity, which Central Hawke’s Bay is pretty much devoid of, is a tragedy. One of the things that I noticed when we moved to CHB was a lack of native bird life. When we lived in Napier, a stone’s throw from the city centre, it was a common occurrence to have several Kereru in the backyard at once, Bellbirds, Tui etc. I had a bellbird that used to land outside our home office window everyday when the Echium was in flower which to me was special as I’d never been that close before. Here we see Tui and fantails very occasionally because of a lack of habitat.

Dam Decommissioning

The cost of decommissioning a dam is more than the cost of construction, so if you allow this to be built you’re not only burdening this generation with the cost, you’re inflicting a bigger debt on Marni’s children and grandkids. The life expectancy of a CFRD is 50 to 100 years, depending on silt and gravel build up, maintenance, earth movement from seismic movement etc. So if you allow this to proceed it will return to public ownership just in time for it to be decommissioned.

Increasing Debt and the Associated Risk

With land values on the increase, and the added pressure of paying high prices for irrigated water, traditional farming is becoming unaffordable. According to an article from Stuff 14-11-2013,

Loans by registered banks to dairy farmers this year totalled $32.37 billion. Total agriculture on farm loans $49.2 billion and agriculture as a whole owed banks $50.5 billion.”

That’s a lot of risk being carried by dairy, and what happens when it falls over, because it will eventually. It’s only a matter of time that a “scare” becomes a reality, and that will decimate the industry. Bringing in supplementary feed from countries with foot and mouth for example increases that likelihood, not to mention financing the decimation of another countries ecology, but that’s another story. It’ll be the small guys with the big loans that get hit first, and the corporates will walk away.

One last thing which may seem really trivial to some, but if Dairying increases in this area there’s another side effect, increased danger on our country roads from tankers. I had actually forgotten what it was like to see so many milk tankers until recently when I was in the Manawatu, and from Dannevirke, suddenly they’re everywhere.

Plan Change 6

The second part of my submission that I would like to speak about is Plan Change 6. I am opposed because nitrate levels are set too high and other matters.

In my opinion this is a management plan that ignores a major contributor of degrading water quality in our rivers. With levels of Nitrogen, or nitrates exceeding safe drinking water standards in Canterbury and Waimea(8), and to learn that this is an accumulative problem should raise alarm bells with everyone. HBRC’s admission that site’s they have tested in the Ruataniwha catchment will exceed safe drinking standards by 2052 should also make everyone realise that existing practices need to halted, and farming intensification will speed up the degradation of our water.

Why are levels being set at the bottom-line? Why are they not being set instead at the optimum health for the whole aquatic system? I understand that allowable Nitrogen levels will be increased by almost 500% from what they are currently. I’m not a scientist, and I’ll leave the experts to their qualified explanations, but what I can say is what I’ve witnessed for myself.

During last summers drought we were frequent visitors to the river. We swim upstream of Waipawa, well upstream of the town sewerage treatment plant. The water levels were very low and green algal growth covered large parts of the remaining water in the slower flowing parts of the river. I heard an interview with someone from Federated Farmers blaming townships, and sewerage outfall specifically and its phosphorus content, as being a major cause of algal blooms. North of Waipawa, to my knowledge, there is no township that discharges anything into the water, so where do you think the nutrients are coming from? Green algae isn’t the problem though; Cyanobacteria is the main concern when you have children and dogs in or around the river. We were unaware that it was in the Waipawa as the signs were beside the Tukituki at Waipukurau, but we’ve since found out it is here too.

Last summer provided perfect conditions for algal growth; high temperatures, low water levels and the high nutrient levels. Climate change, bringing higher temperatures and increasing the frequency of drought and flood events will only make this worse.

The way water is allocated needs to be addressed, which means looking at land usage (9).

In 2010, 78% of allocated water was used for irrigation, 11% for Industrial use, 8% for drinking water and 3% for stock, which I perceive to mean drinking water for livestock.

Out of that 78% for irrigation, 76% was used for pasture, 13% Horticulture, 4% for both Arable farming and Viticulture, 2% was other and not specified, and 1% Recreational.

Estimated actual water use from consented takes in Hawkes Bay from 1999 to 2010, went from approximately 23,000 hectares to 47,000 hectares. Canterbury in the same period went from 400,000 hectares, to just under 700,000. Irrigation is a greedy consumer of water, and especially pasture irrigation. For areas that will experience drought in ever increasing cycles is it really the best choice for our finite resources?

When it comes to producing effluent cows are extremely gifted; 1 cow equals 15 people, so with 6.5 million cows approximately that’s the equivalent of 90 million people. That’s a rather mountainous pile. What sort of impact do you think unrestricted increases of dairy herds are going to have on this areas water catchment? If we want to care for our water then we definitely do not want intensification, and we need far better controls in place to handle what we do have.

We do need a comprehensive water plan that protects water quality for the ecological health of the river; unfortunately Plan Change 6 as it stands is not it. We need proven, robust science in place that puts the environment first, not measures that put commercial interests above the health of our river.

It’s interesting to me that Iain Maxwell has changed his opinion from the days when he was employed by Fish and Game. From an article that he wrote concerning the Taharua river at the headwaters of the Mohaka, that appeared in the August 2009 issue of BayBuzz he stated,

In the late 90’s large areas of the valley were converted from light pastoral farming and forestry to intensive dairy platforms. Since the conversion of land to dairy farming, the quality of water flowing down the Taharua River has declined, with increasing levels of nutrient (mainly nitrogen) in the water. The initial evidence suggests that this is not a coincidence and the changes are related.”

Conclusion

It’s always a good thing to try and identify a positive from any situation you find yourself in, and mine from all of this is it has started me on a journey. I’ve learned a huge amount over the last few months, met some wonderful people, and discovered this discussion has raged in other parts of the country for quite some years while I, like others, have been blissfully unaware.

So what specific outcomes would I like to see happen for the good of my community and district? Plan Change 6: I would like the health of the river and its ecology put to the forefront, optimum levels set, rather than just bottom lines which if detected have already been crossed.

I would like our water protected and enhanced, so dual management of both Phosphorus and Nitrogen.

Riparian planting has to be wide enough, and this along with the fencing of waterways needs to be actioned without delay; we also need more wetland areas.

Planning and resource consent need to be looked at so a broad mix of agriculture is encouraged and implemented. Large tracts of farm land being sold to corporate
concerns for intensive farming needs to be discouraged as it will not benefit this area economically, socially or environmentally.

Our changing climate and the strain it will put the river and aquifers under needs to be recognised.

My request for the dam is that you do not allow it to proceed. The risk is too great.

There are other alternatives for water storage, and they are small scale and locally controlled without the huge risk involved. They also don’t involve transferring what is held in commons for all being privatised for the financial benefit of a very small minority.

I have heard certain people say that this is a fait accompli, although I believe that you, the board, are approaching this with an open mind, and once you have heard all opinions you will come to a very different conclusion, that this isn’t the magic pill to cure all ills, or a golden goose. It’s more of a dead duck. There are other options without the negative impacts.

Works Cited

1. http://www.drinkingwater.esr.cri.nz/supplies/supplycomplyforcy.asp?ccode=WAI005

2. http://peer.berkeley.edu/events/2009/sfdc_workshop/Langridge_PEER_Hawke’sBay_RML.pdf

3. http://www.earth-prints.org/bitstream/2122/2409/1/824.pdf

4. http://www.cdemhawkesbay.govt.nz/PicsHotel/hawkesbaycdem/Brochure/EngineeringLifeline/Facing%20the%20Risks_Chap%202_Earthquake%20HazardsPt2.pdf

5. http://probeinternational.org/library/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Fan-Xiao12-12.pdf

6. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/evanosnos/2009/02/early-warning.html

7. http://www.eqc.govt.nz/research/research-papers/neotectonics-ruahine-and-mohaka-faults-between-the-manawatu-gorge-and-puketitiri

8. http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/richmond-waimea/9202933/Dam-plan-fuels-nitrate-debate

9. http://www.parliament.nz/mi-nz/parl-support/research-papers/00PlibCIP151/freshwater-use-in-new-zealand

10. http://www.waterpowermagazine.com/features/featuredam-design-the-effects-of-active-faults/

.

.

= fs =

12 June – Issues of Interest

12 June 2013 4 comments

.

Looking at the pieces

.

Nigel Latta on National Standards

On Facebook, child psychologist and TV host, Nigel Latta, had this to say about the recent National Standards “results”;

‘National Standards’ aren’t.

The latest national standards ‘results’ being reported in the media are utter nonsense. Pure and simple. Even if we ignore the large inconsistencies between the way that the ‘standards’ are measured (and we can’t because the inconsistencies make comparisons all but impossible), and the fact that it assumes all children of a given age are maturing at the same rate (which they don’t), and we ignore the impact of little things like child poverty (which some politicians like to do much to their shame), it’s still impossible to say anything at all about a change in the numbers when you only have two data points.

They can’t say that a difference of 1.2-2% on the various measures between last year and this year is an ‘improvement’, because we simply don’t know.

If you had assessed all of those very same children again the day after they were assessed for these numbers, in the exact same conditions with the exact same measures, then you would also get a different number. That’s because in the real world we have this little thing called statistical variation–things never work out exactly the same. To make any meaningful statements about ‘improvements’ you need meaningful measures (which national standards aren’t anyway) over several different data points (i.e. over several years).

I wish the media would get that very simple, but very important point. Politicians will spin it as a gain, but it isn’t. It’s simply meaningless statistical ‘noise’.

The government went with national standards because they thought voters would like it, not because it’s the best thing for making progress on education. If we really wanted to lift our ‘national standards’ then, perhaps as a beginning, we’d take more care of the large numbers of our kids living in poverty.

When they produce their ‘rankings’ of schools I’m pretty sure it’s going to show a trend whereby higher decile schools meet/exceed the ‘standards’ much more than lower decile schools. I wonder why that might be? And who do we blame for that? Teachers?

Don’t be sucked in by all this political positioning. My advice is to ignore the national standards tables because they don’t mean anything. There’s a reason teachers were so opposed to the way these ‘national standards’ are being used… fundamentally because it’s nonsense!

Nigel Latta, Facebook, 12 June 2013

.

100% Pure brand busted!

New Zealand’s distance from it’s major trading partners (except Australia) has always been a major impediment to our trading. Our point-of-difference has  been the quality of our food products, and has made them desirable commodities on that basis.  Branding ourselves as “100% Pure” and  “Clean and Green” were marketing tools that created a multi-billion dollar export industry.

But that is coming to an end.

We are not “100% Pure” and nor are we “Clean and Green”. Anything but.

National has paid lip service to being green.

Pollution has been allowed to increase.

It’s focus on “reforming” the RMA to allow for exploitation mof sensitive environmental areas; more and more chemicals ion our farms; allowing dangerous deep sea drilling of our coastline; mining in Conservation lands; and ditching our committment to the Kyoto Protocol – have not gone unnoticed by our trading partners.

And those trading partners  are starting to react accordingly,

.

Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

.

An over-reaction?

Not when National has appointed a  board to over-see a resource consent application to allow an increase of nitrogen pollution  in the Tukituki River  by a staggering 250% !

.

Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

.

This will not doubt be ratchetted back to “only” 50% or 100%, and National will claim that they are “listening” to public concerns. It’s an old political trick when a deeply unpopular policy is put forward. Make a number unfeasibly large; then offer a lower number, and claim that government has listened to the public. In reality it was the lower number all along that was the preferred option.

National has consistently undermined environmental protections in this country, as well as knee-capped DoC by sacking staff and under-funding it’s operations.

We are now starting to pay the price of right-wing policies that pursue business and profit ahead of  preserving our environment.

What National and it’s one-eyed supporters don’t seem to comprehend is that business and profits are dependendent on our clean and green environment. Mess up the environment and expect to lose customers and profits.

Just ask the Sri Lankans.

.

User-pays healthcare?

For those neo-liberals and naive National supporters who advocate replacing our socialised healthcare system with privatised healthcare insurance, I present the reality,

.

NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

.

Private health-privider,  Wakefield chairman Alan Isaac said,

“The total number of New Zealanders with private health insurance (is) decreasing.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Well, no wonder!

Even as private healthcare companies like Wakefield are complaining about losing customers, they are hiking premiums and still making a 27% increase in full-year earnings. Twentyseven percent! Compare that to other investments, and you begin to realise that these companies aren’t doing too bad.

That’s 27% that could have been re-invested in healthcare – but is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

What would happen, I wonder, if New Zealand’s healthcare system was fully privatised and  went totally “free market”, as ACT policy demands?

This OECD chart suggests the result, if we were ever foolish enough to go down that road,

.

OECD - private - public - healthcare expenditure -2007

Source: OECD – Total health expenditure per capita, public and private, 2007

.

At 7,290, the United States spends nearly three times as much on healthcare as we do. Their private/public health costs are vastly greater than the entire public/private expenditure we have here in New Zealand with our “socialised” system.

And ACT wants to emulate our American cuzzies?!

The only thing the USA has demonstrated is that a privatised healthcare system will result in a massive blow-out in costs and rapacious profits for shareholders.

The argument from the neo-liberal Right is that private enterprise is “more efficient” and better for consumers. This is absolute bollocks.

If anything, private health insurance is highly ineffective at delivering  universal healthcare for it’s clients,

.

Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

.

As has been observed by others in the past, private health insurance is relatively cheap when you are young, healthy, and make few demands for medical intervention.

But with old age; increased infirmity; and heightened vulnerabilty comes increased premium payments for policy-holders. Just when they most require increased medical services.

This is the fatal flaw in private medical insurance; those who most require it, will pay the highest premiums. And pay, and pay, and pay…

Just ask the Americans.

See also: NZ Herald – Jack Tame: Sickness is too expensive in the land of the free

Other blogs:  Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

.

Some good news at last…

.

It has been a stain on our reputation that despite our anti-nuclear legislation, our Superannuation Fund was still investing in overseas companies engaged in producing atomic bombs and cluster munitions. This was a problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”)  that I highlighted  in December, last year.

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

The Superannuation Fund has done the right thing by no longer continuing to invest in Babcock & Wilcox, Fluor Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering Group, Serco Group and URS Corporation;

.

Super Fund sells nuclear investments

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Super Fund sells nuclear investments

.

The other weapons we are no longer investing in is the manufacture of cluster-munitions. These vile things are the weapons-of-choice for vicious dictators and other repressive regimes which they use against their civilian population.

They have been used in Syria, against unarmed civilians. Children have been killed by these monstrous devices.  (see: Syrian children ‘killed by cluster bombs’)

Cluster munitions have been outlawed by  nearly 100 nations which signed a  treaty to ban cluster bombs.  In 2009, to their credit, the current National-led government  passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country. This included the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 (17 Dec 2009)

It would take a ruthless person to discount this human suffering and advocate for our continued investment in their manufacture.

The Superannuation Fund was effectively breaking the law with it’s investments in General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, and the Goodrich Corp.

It’s good to see that our fingers are no longer bloodied by such  investments.

As for right-wingers who dismiss investment in atomic bombs or cluster munition – go play with a cluster bomb.  Come back to me after it’s detonated in your hands. Then we’ll talk.

Just ask the Syrians.

.

The bucks stops with me over there, somewhere…

I guess it was inevitable, really…

.

Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

.

Did we really, really expect any one of the three Ministers who signed off on Novopay to put their hand up and admit responsibility?!

No less than three ministers signed off on Novopay, to allow it to “go live”;

  • Education Minisrer Hekia Parata
  • Associate Education Minister Craig Foss
  • Finance Minister Bill English

Because doesn’t it strike people as  indicative that Minister for Everything, aka, Mr Fixit, Steven Joyce was appointed Minister in charge of Novopay – thereby taking responsibility for this ongoing balls-up away from Parata?! (see: ODT – Joyce to take on handling of Novopay)

Despite the so-call “ministerial inquiry”, Joyce had a very interesting point to make on 31 January;

.

Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgement – Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay for now

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

So… how can  Joyce’s statement be reconciled with his statement, five months later,

Reporting to Ministers was inconsistent, unduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz: Ministerial Inquiry report into Novopay released

Either Ministers were “told that it had bugs” or  reporting wasunduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation“. Which is it?!

By the way, the Ministerial Inquiry was undertaken by Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Mr Weavers was former head of the Department of the Prime Minister (John Key) and Cabinet.

Connect the dots.

.

WhiteWash

.

Other blogposts: Gordon Campbell on the latest Novopay revelations

.

.

= fs =