Friday, December 8, 2023

Water submission extension too short

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A two-week extension for submissions on the Government’s freshwater discussion document is not enough, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says.
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Late last week Environment Minister David Parker said submissions will be accepted up to 5pm on October 31, two weeks after the original October 17 deadline.

The original six-week consultation period is the routine timeframe used for submissions to select committees, Parker said.

Mackle welcomed the extra two weeks but called on Parker to go further.

“A two-week extension is a step in the right direction but our concerns remain the same. 

“Farmers still need more time to consider the Government’s proposal and to carefully weigh up the impact it may have on their farms, families and communities.

“It’s great that the minister has listened to farming representatives like DairyNZ and Federated Farmers but we are calling on the Government to go further and extend consultation out to 12 weeks.

“That would allow farmers and the rest of New Zealand enough time to properly engage in the process. 

“It might not be good politics but it might just lead to good policy.”

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said the extra two weeks is an insult to farmers’ concerns and will make very little difference to their ability to meet the deadline.

“Let’s not forget that these freshwater proposals took almost 12 months to put together so it’s blatantly unfair that farmers are only being given a few short weeks to have their say.

“Farmers have told me that they will not be fobbed off like this.

“They contribute significantly to the country’s economy and expect their voices to be given a robust hearing by the minister.

“When I suggested that David Parker extend the consultation period I had hoped he would see reason and give farmers extra months, not a couple of extra weeks, to be involved in this process.

“This consultation period falls right in the middle of calving and lambing, the busiest time of year on the farming calendar, so extending the consultation period by two weeks will achieve nothing.

“One can only assume that the Environment Minister is not interested in listening to the real concerns of farmers as he effectively shuts them out of the consultation process,” Dean said.

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