Greenpeace is applauding the new Labour-led Government on yesterday’s Speech from the Throne, which focused heavily on the significant challenges New Zealand faces around water quality and climate change.
Greenpeace campaigner, Gen Toop, says the Speech, read by Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, confirmed that taxpayer money will no longer be used to support irrigation – a key driver of the expansion of industrial dairy farming.
“Ditching any new taxpayer irrigation funding and supporting a shift towards more sustainable farming is a great first step by this Government to clean up NZ’s rivers,” she says.
“Big irrigation schemes drive more intensive dairy conversions, and more cows means more polluted rivers, so it’s great to see these schemes will no longer have the Government’s stamp of approval.”
The new Government also indicated they will give more support to Regional Councils to better monitor and control nutrients and sediments in waterways.
“Stopping irrigation will only slow the expansion of intensive dairy. If we want clean rivers we urgently need fewer cows, and it looks like the Government also has a strategy to achieve this,” says Toop.
“The agricultural sector is going to have go through a significant transformation towards regenerative farming methods that look after our land, climate, and rivers.
“The farming leadership have so far held up progress on the necessary transition to cleaner farming, which has created dirty rivers and huge public upset. We hope they’ll finally see the writing is on the wall and actually step up and do their job to lead farmers through this transition”.
While the new Government also restated it’s commitment to taking action on climate change throughout the Speech, it avoided the critical issue of stopping oil exploration.
“It is great news to see that this Government will protect our conservation estate, and that the climate will be protected from new coal mines on conservation land,” says Toop.
“But if Jacinda Ardern is serious about making climate change her ‘nuclear free moment’, the Government needs to back up those bold words with bold action by putting an end to oil and gas exploration.”
The world’s largest seismic oilfields company, Schlumberger, is right now waiting for the New Zealand Government to approve an application to begin seismic blasting for oil across 19,000 square kilometres of the Taranaki Basin this summer.
The area is right in the middle of the recently discovered blue whale habitat, the whale’s only known feeding ground in New Zealand.
“The most obvious way to take real action on climate change right now is to stop oil exploration.”
“We’re calling on the new Government to end oil exploration, turn back the Schlumberger ship, and put a stop to the annual ‘Block Offer’ process where huge tracts of our land and sea are opened up for oil and gas exploration.”
Ten thousand New Zealanders have already signed a petition, launched this week, asking Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to end oil exploration and stop seismic blasting in the blue whale habitat this summer.
This petition is just the latest example of public protest in a decade-long movement of opposition to oil and gas by iwi and local communities up and down the country.