Groundswell NZ is seeking solutions to environmental issues which are effective and that can be tailored to regional differences. Our primary concern is the extent of unworkable regulations and policies developed in silos. Together with our families, we make the following requests to the Government as a stake in the ground:
- The National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) is overly complex legislation with unnecessary, ineffective box ticking requirements on both landowners and councils. We are seeking legislation that empowers councils to focus on priority freshwater issues while actively supporting community-led solutions such as catchment groups. We recognise the recent changes to sowing dates and pugging rules, however the substantive flaws with the NPS-FW remain, as well as the outstanding issues of slope rules and RMA prescribed audited farm plans. The NPS-FW must be repealed and rewritten.
- The Significant Natural Area (SNA) requirements within the NPS-IB are counterproductive to positive environmental outcomes, disrespect private property rights, and pit councils against their most conservation minded landowners. This box ticking policy needs to be withdrawn and replaced with strategies and actions based on threats to indigenous biodiversity, particularly weeds and pests.
- The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) is unworkable legislation that needs to be redrafted. As currently written, this policy punishes landowners who are proactive in conservation, and turns biodiversity and environmental endeavour into a liability. Flexibility should be given to councils to address issues within their communities by supporting the many existing initiatives, including the QEII Trust.
- The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and climate change policies are incentivising large areas of farmland into pines, having detrimental impacts on rural communities. They are a significant cost burden on the world's most emissions-efficient farmers. The unworkable elements of climate change policy and the ETS are delivering perverse outcomes and must be fixed.
- The Agricultural Emissions Tax, either through He Waka Eke Noa or the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), is ill considered and would result in worse outcomes for global emissions, the environment, our economy, and our country. If the goal is global emissions reductions and better environmental outcomes, there is no place for an emissions tax on New Zealand agriculture. We support emissions being addressed through on farm actions in an integrated manner.
- The Three Waters Reforms are another ill considered proposal that should be withdrawn. We support the need for quality infrastructure, but oppose management takeover of community assets unless the community supports this change by referendum. There are many aspects of water infrastructure that have not been considered by the Three Waters reforms, including community goodwill in building schemes, and the importance of local democracy, particularly in responding to natural disasters.
- The Water Services Bill will hugely impact the rural community, forcing homes that have their own water supply, or share a rural water scheme with their neighbours, to be regulated like a town water supplier.
- The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is another layer of unworkable and unnecessary regulation over mainly high country farmers and must be withdrawn. The bill fails to recognise the immense value farmers have, and will continue to have, in helping an under-resourced Crown in looking after the high country estate. To achieve that, we support one administrative system agreed to by high country farmers.
- The Clean Car Package ("Ute Tax") rebate scheme. Although this policy is now in legislation, we are hugely disappointed that the government has forced this on New Zealand’s economic heavy-lifters: farmers, horticulturalists, industry support people, and tradespeople who need utes, as there is still no viable electric option. The motor industry say it could be 3-5 years before viable options are in our market.
Groundswell NZ propose an integrated policy framework for all environmental issues to reduce duplication and cost, avoid perverse outcomes, remove policy conflicts, and put a greater focus on environmental outcomes.
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