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Smith’s water quality con falling apart

Nick Smith’s latest announcement is another political scam which will not clean up our polluted rivers, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker.

“Nick Smith has done it again: he’s made a massive mess of an important policy. The man who promised us thousands of houses on 500 hectares of Crown land and instead gave us 30 hectares of empty fields has now delivered a water policy that allows polluted rivers to be reclassified as “swimmable”.

“He tried to fool the public into thinking he was announcing an improvement in water standards but water scientists have called him out. Kiwis aren’t going to be tricked by this blatant con-job. They aren’t going to accept rivers and lakes are ‘swimmable’ if they can have a one in twenty chance of making you sick.

“Who would eat in a restaurant where one in twenty customers get sick? Apparently, Nick Smith would.

“It gets worse. According to Nick Smith, rivers can exceed the, already high, limit for e coli 20 per cent of the time and still be graded as “good” quality for swimming. It’s right there in Nick Smith’s policy statement. 20 per cent of the year is 2.4 months – which could be from Christmas to the start of March.

“That means a river which could make you sick over summer is ‘good’ for swimming in according to National.

“A dip in your local river on a hot day is a Kiwi tradition. Is it too much to ask that our kids can put their heads under the water without getting sick? How out of touch are Bill English and Nick Smith?

“Eight years ago National spiked the National Policy Statement recommended by former head Environment Court Judge Sheppard after the full RMA process. The core provision of that NPS was that increases in farming intensity (more livestock, irrigation or fertiliser per hectare) would no longer be permitted.

“For 8 years, they have overseen increasing pollution of our rivers, adopting the pathetic “wadeable” standard while allowing river pollution to get worse. Their latest scam to redefine swimmable won’t work.

“Labour will reissue the NPS without the trickery. We will return to the principles of the Sheppard NPS. We will enforce the existing swimmable standard, not National’s dirty substitute.

“It is a birthright to be able to swim in our rivers and Labour will reverse the damage wrought under National,” says David Parker