Voters urged to get out and vote in the ‘swimmable’ election

As voting for the 2017 General Election begins, people are being urged to have their say in what Fish & Game is describing as the ‘swimmable’ election.

From today, electors are able to cast their votes early, while those living overseas have been able to vote since last Wednesday, 6 September.

How many more rivers like this one in Hawke's Bay will become un-swimmable without a rescue plan?  

The environment has emerged as one of the top election issues and Fish & Game’s chief executive Bryce Johnson believes the continuing debate over water quality will play a role in deciding the next government.

“The declining quality of our fresh waterways is deeply worrying New Zealanders who have watched in dismay as the river they used to swim in as a child has become so dirty they can no longer take their own children there to enjoy it,” Mr Johnson says.

Bryce Johnson says that growing public anger makes 2017 the ‘swimmable’ election.

“All parties need to be committing to a proper action plan which will make our rivers, lakes and streams swimmable, fishable and safe to gather food from.

“People were outraged earlier this year when the government tried to declare rivers were swimmable by lifting the allowable pollution levels.  Such a cynical bureaucratic stroke of the pen is not going to fix the dire state of our waterways,” Mr Johnson says.

He says the government is now using the same ‘stroke of the pen’ tactic with irrigation and dams, announcing Crown Irrigation will now be able to focus on environmental benefits from its projects.

The government is claiming this is good news for the environment but Mr Johnson says the move is cynical and will provide no environmental benefit.

“This is just a smokescreen for the government to continue its policy of intensifying agriculture at the expense of the environment while appearing to be listening to the growing public anger over the state of our waterways.

“Despite what the minister is claiming, irrigation and dams aren’t good for our rivers, lakes and streams,” Mr Johnson says.

“Quite apart from reducing natural water flows, they also result in intensifying greater land use in previously marginal and unsuitable landscapes with corresponding adverse environmental effects.”

Fish & Game says with less than a fortnight until the Election on September 23, voters should now be scrutinising political party policies and deciding which will do the most to improve the environment and recreational access to the outdoors.

“It is now up to voters to familiarise themselves with the policies and choose which is best for them and the outdoor pursuits they enjoy,” Bryce Johnson says.

Fish & Game urges New Zealanders to visit for facts on the water quality issue and links to some of the key reports by government agencies and other organisations.

This site also provides political party answers on key environmental questions, as well as an easy way to send a letter to your local MP calling for action on water quality.

Fish & Game also gave the country’s political parties the chance to outline their policy positions on key outdoor issues.

To read their replies click here