Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Ending a sham collaboration

Five years ago the government launched the Land and Water Forum, a "collaborative process" between polluters and environmental groups aimed at producing "a common direction for water management in New Zealand". Now, Fish and Game has called bullshit on that process and pulled out:

A key member of a national water use and quality taskforce has quit, blaming the Government for "a lack of good faith" over collaboration.

Fish and Game New Zealand - the first to coin the phrase "dirty dairying" - formally resigned from the Land and Water Forum last week.

Chief executive Bryce Johnson said changes to the forum's rules around membership and restrictions on the ability to speak out had "essentially compelled us to resign".

And judging by Forest & Bird's press release today on the McKenzie Basin, where they accuse the government of ignoring its own collaborative process to undermine conservation goals, they're set to follow. And they should. Because an OIA release from MBIE on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (which uses a similar "stakeholder engagement group" model) made it very clear how the government sees such processes: as a way of suborning and silencing critics while increasing "social licence" to pollute. And faced with such bad faith "engagement", environmental groups are far better to refuse to engage.