David Haynes Column for Reel Life March 2019
SAME SH*T, DIFFERENT BUCKET
Back in the bad old days from 2011 to 2016, the National Government allocated $460M of taxpayers’ money for mega-irrigation schemes, to drive further intensification of the dairy industry in Canterbury and Otago. During the same period it allocated a further $465M of taxpayers’ money to clean up the pollution created by the same dairy industry it had simultaneously subsidised.
National’s last destructive freshwater act was to allocate $7M from the Freshwater Improvement Fund to fund the construction of the Waimea Dam in Nelson. Waimea Dam’s few proponents and beneficiaries of this largely publicly-subsidised dam said, upon receiving the grant: “Another crucial purpose is that only the dam, of all the researched options, meets our obligations to respect and care for the mauri of our rivers.”
Really? Sticking a huge concrete wall across a river, preventing the natural flow and passage of migratory fish, whilst inundating public conservation land improves the mauri of the river?
Can we all now breathe a sigh of relief that this insane subsidy scheme has bitten the dust since a change of government?
No. The Irrigation subsidies of yore have since been ingested into the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, also known as Shane Jones’ lolly bag. One of his recent shows of largesse was a $10M low interest loan to Westland Milk so it can build a bigger milk processing plant in Hokitika.
On my recent fishing forays I fished rivers alongside four dairy farms, three of which displayed evidence of cows in the river. Alarmed by the statistics of this, I asked StackExchange, a mathematics forum to help compute the chances of visiting four dairy farms, of which three were allowing cattle in rivers, given there are 400 dairy suppliers to Westland.
I took photos - a couple are shown here.
I’ll spare the mathematics of “hyper-geometric distribution,” suffice to say the chance of me happening upon the only three delinquent dairy farms is 1 in 2,645,502.
So I sent the photos to Jacinda Ardern, Shane Jones, Eugenie Sage, Damian O’Connor and David Parker, all MPs with related portfolios, and asked whether the $10M bung to Westland came with any environmental performance conditions such as “if your suppliers pollute our freshwater, you don’t get the loan.”
Apart from the Hon David Parker calling me to discuss the issue, I heard absolutely nothing from the rest and so can only presume there are no such conditions.
I sent the photos to Westland asking if I could have a copy of their supply contract, specifically to see if any environmental conditions were in place to reward the good suppliers and eliminate the bad eggs. Answer came there none.
I wrote to DairyNZ, sending them the photos, asking what, if any environmental inspection regime was paid for from by their obligatory levies.
No answers were forthcoming.
In conclusion, it appears that, despite all the rhetoric, public relations and electioneering, when it comes to freshwater pollution it is the same sh*t in a different bucket.
Co-Leader, NZ Outdoors Party