Thursday 8 April 2010

Water: ‘When Federated Farmers asks, the Government listens’

by Pat O’Dea

Wondering what is behind the sacking of the Canterbury Regional Council over the control of Canterbury’s water resources? When Federated Farmers ask, the Government listens.

New Zealand’s biggest business pressure group put out their wish list in early February. Since then the Government has been ticking the boxes one by one.

The Fed’s February Wish List:

“New Zealand can pass Australia because we have the water and they don’t,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

“While there’s no numbers in the Prime Minister’s speech, Federated Farmers’ intense lobbying on water storage has water firmly on the National Infrastructure Unit’s work programme.

“Water is to our economy what minerals are to Australia’s. Harnessing water to grow grass and crops that would otherwise run out to sea is economically transformational.

“Federated Farmers is extremely pleased the Government has listened to us in ruling out both a Land Tax and a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax. The ambition to reduce tax rates is great and the Federation would have few issues if the Government decided to act on the taxation of investment property as well as looking to increase GST to 15 percent.

“Yet there is a pressing need to rein in a bloated Government and avoiding substantial reform to Working for Families is a missed opportunity.

“One area we’re excited to hear about is a possible increase in public funding for research and development (R&D). This is about growing the economy that reduces the need for big Government. Federated Farmers wants the major political parties to sign-on to a three percent R&D spend by 2029.

“Federated Farmers also welcomes the Government standing up to the shrill and hysterical mining opponents. It’s estimated New Zealand has $140 billion of on-land mineral reserves and over half a trillion dollars worth in our territorial waters. 

“Minerals will jump start the New Zealand economy but long-term progress will be made by unleashing the nation’s farmers, horticulturalists, wine makers, fishers and foresters.”

There you have it.

The Feds also accompany this self serving wish list with a lot of self-justification that these policies are necessary to feed a hungry world.

This is a lie.

The Feds’ only concern is profit. In their greed the Feds want the power to transform land unsuited to it to the currently very lucrative dairying. This necessitates them seizing control of the limited water resource, which in this case are mostly the rivers and aquifers.

Traditional cropping lands in Canterbury are being ploughed under for environmentally destructive and water hungry dairying.

The Canterbury plains (which are in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps) have been New Zealand’s bread basket for generations, this form of farming is more sustainable and more suited to this environment and would feed more people, use less water and create less pollution than dairying, while also preserving the rare and fragile braided river ecosystems.

The people of Canterbury know this, and are beginning to stand up against environmentally destructive and wasteful Agri-business.

With the sacking of the Environment Canterbury Council by the government over the control of the regions water, no wonder the Feds can boast, “When Federated Farmers asks, the Government listens”.

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