Thursday, August 11, 2016

Predator-free by 3300!

In Question Time today Conservation Minister Maggie Barry was quizzed on the cost of her recently-announced predator-free New Zealand policy. First, she tried not to answer; then, when she was forced to answer by the Speaker, she admitted it:

There have been a number of estimates that have been put forward, some of which are accurate, some of which are building on suppositions. For example—[Interruption] Well, we think that they are accurate. At this stage, when we look at how much it costs us to, for example, rid the Million Dollar Mouse from the Antipodes, that is a million dollars and upwards. There are various studies—a $9.04 billion figure came through from Auckland University, for example. That figure is based on the estimated highest-per-hectare cost of current eradication technology. It does not, though, take into account potential technological advances, and it is really simply a scale-up of current methods that are used on islands.

Yes, that's right: the best estimate is $9 billion, but it will be cheaper because of magic TechnologyTM. Which will apparently appear from nowhere, as the government isn't funding its development. If that's the actual advice DoC gave her, its appalling, and I'd love to know what Treasury thought of it.

And against that $9 billion estimated cost, the government is contributing $28 million. Over four years. That's $7 million a year. And at that rate, we'll meet their target in... 3300 or so.

Making New Zealand predator free is a great goal. But its clear from the funding level and Barry's answers today that the government has no real commitment to it and view it only as a PR stunt. New Zealand - and our native birds - deserves better than this bullshit.