Yesterday’s announcement about a new policy framework for freshwater in New Zealand was a triumph of principled endurance over entrenched interests. So many economic sectors and interest groups are implicated in the crisis of freshwater. That’s why nothing has happened for years. National and Labour governments have kicked the water football to touch, time and time again. Yesterday’s announcement signaled not so much a resolution of the water crisis, but a clear statement that the journey to something better has begun. And in the very nick of time.
Let’s be clear that we’ve started this journey because of the Green’s role in government. Despite the strength of agriculture and its power to threaten both National and Labour-led governments, we saw yesterday the triumph of the Green’s approach. We went beyond hand-waving and vague injunctions that farmers should do better. Due to the Green’s agricultural policy, the government has provided money to back those requests. The $700m for riparian planting is exactly the kind of support that has materialised because of the Greens. We convinced the government to commit resources to control wallabies and wilding pines. The Greens have turned out to be the only party getting those win-wins for farming and the environment. (And at the same time, we’ve achieved the largest ever increase in conservation funding.)
Will these initiatives resolve all our environmental concerns? Absolutely not! But we’ve established the framework. And just as importantly, we’ve opened the door to farmers. We’re inviting the industry that dominates our landscapes to move beyond neoliberal voluntarism and engage with us to heal the land. To leave enough space for nature to recover. Our lives literally depend on it.
The Greens have long called for freshwater improvements, and we’ll continue to do so. We’re the only party with environmental protection at our core. Help us achieve more for freshwater and for practical improvements in farming practices. Party vote Green in September.
Meanwhile, it’s time to smile.
The Green Party Agricultural Policy can be found here: https://www.greens.org.nz/agriculture_and_rural_affairs_policy
For a detailed summary of what the new approach involves for farmers: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/05/28/1206166/govt-promises-clean-waterways-with-final-freshwater-plan
And just to remind us how far we still have to go: https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/29-05-2020/even-chinas-waterways-are-better-protected-than-new-zealands/