New Zealand Needs a Plan Not Regulation

07 Oct 2019 New Zealand Needs a Plan Not Regulation image

Cleaning up water quality and meeting the challenges of climate change will not be achieved through current ways.  That is, through the Resource Management Act, central government or our local councils.  Government dictating to rural and urban New Zealand prescribed limits and dictating what landowners are to do, will not in my opinion work given the earth changing challenges that are required.

The current freshwater reforms are following the tried Resource Management Act pathway, which for many New Zealanders trying to get a consent, presents a very resource intensive and uncertain process.  Significant time and cost are involved, a very risk adverse and limiting approach is taken by the councils, and the outcome is uncertain.  The challenge of the Resource Management Act is so extreme that for the Government to achieve what it wants for the freshwater reforms, it will need to amend the Resource Management Act.

I can easily rest my case just on that fact alone and ask why we, the growers and farmers of New Zealand as well as the Government, are stopped by council red tape from making the environmental changes that are so needed.  As a country we need to face up the fact that the changes that are needed will be made by you, me, our growers, our farmers and everyone that lives in our cities.  Protesting will not bring about change: it is action that will make the difference.  And this is something our growers and farmers have been doing for generations – looking after the land and water, then passing it onto the next generation.

So rather than get commissioners to hear submissions and make recommendations to the Government about how central government and local councils can prescribe and tell us what to do, how about we work together to create a plan that we can all contribute to.

Part of this plan needs to deal with how we are to feed ourselves and provide for the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.  To do that we need to ensure that our growers and farmers remain profitable as they pay to clean up freshwater and meet climate change commitments. 

We also need to ensure that the price of healthy vegetables and fruit remains affordable for New Zealanders.  Deloitte has estimated that New Zealand consumers could face price increases as high as 58% by 2043 if vegetable production does not increase.  What the Government and councils need to do is step in and help with research and the development of new technologies. 

The importance of food production was specifically recognised in the Paris Agreement but paradoxically, that critical survival element has not found its way into the Carbon Zero Bill.  If such a narrow minded and restrictive approach is followed, New Zealand will not meet these challenges.

So what is needed is a new and holistic approach that starts with the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, where we work collectively as one to meet these challenges.  There needs to be a careful balancing act that meets environmental and climate change challenges, keeps both our urban and rural businesses profitable, and feeds New Zealanders healthy food at an affordable price. 

We need some sort of food security policy that improves New Zealand’s ability to feed itself and makes us less dependent on imports, while at the same time, improves New Zealanders’ overall health. 

All this is tricky to balance and achieve, and one that certainly cannot be achieved through the current Resource Management Act, central government and local council regulations.

Mike Chapman, Chief Executive