Monday, May 09, 2011

National's incoherent fresh water policy

The government is hyping its new fresh water policy today. From the PR, you'd think they'd committed to cleaning up our lakes, rivers and streams, and ending dirty dairying forever. The reality is rather different. The key instrument - a new National Policy Statement on fresh water [PDF] merely requires regional councils to change their policies to set maximum limits on water takes, establish cleanup targets for polluted waterways, and end overallocation. That's a good start, the minimum necessary really, but there's no urgency in this process. The deadline for implementing the NPS - that is, for establishing the policies, rather than cleaning up the actual waterways - is 2030. So, in 20 years, every council will have set targets. Woop-de-fucking-dooh.

Meanwhile, to "balance" this underwhelming "commitment" to clean water, the government is pumping $35 million into subsidising irrigation. Which means effectively pumping $35 million into producing cowshit, which will go straight into the same waterways they supposedly want to clean up. Its not just incoherent - its directly undermining the policy they've just established.

But the important thing is that they can claim they are Doing Something about fresh water. Not right now, and not effectively, but they get the headline now, and no-one will pay attention to the nasty details. Again, its the triumph of PR over policy. But that's National is all about.