Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More censorship at DoC

The Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is a plan by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to build a dam to provide greater irrigation for dairy farmers. The plan would ruin the Tukituki River, filling it with cowshit and toxic algae, so in accordance with its statutory duty under the Conservation Act, DoC wrote a detailed submission opposing it. But the Minister censored them:

A draft Department of Conservation submission on the Ruataniwha Dam water storage project says the Hawke's Bay Regional Council proposal is a risky and untested approach to water management which could kill the rivers involved.

The draft submission obtained by Radio New Zealand News was written for the Board of Inquiry into the dam, but was not submitted. Instead, DoC submitted a brief "neutral" document which does not raise concerns about what could happen to water quality and the dangers for at-risk fish species in the Tukituki and Waipawa Rivers and tributaries.

And there's no doubt it was the Minister - Nick Smith basicly admits his guilt here:
Smith said he simply told the department "they needed to be careful" when making submissions in his name on an issue where he was the final decision-maker.

"The board of inquiry is there to make decisions about plan changes in respect of Ruataniwha, and the board of inquiry, after it's considered its submissions, it makes a recommendation about a plan-change decision that ultimately I make," he said.

"Now for me then to be making submissions to that board of inquiry strongly advocating one point of view or other ... is one that the department needs to be careful of."

Of course the Department doesn't make submissions in the name of the Minister - it makes them in accordance with its statutory functions, which include advocating for conservation and preserving freshwater fisheries. Nick Smith stopped them from doing that. It is a gross interference in the functions of a department. But with National, its "anything goes" if it benefits farmers.