Time for advocacy over?

The government seems to be pushing as much controversial legislation through as possible before next year’s election.

In Editor’s Note3 Minutes
Country-Wide editor Terry Brosnahan

The government seems to be pushing as much controversial legislation through as possible before next year’s election.

Three Waters is now Five Waters, with coastal water and geothermal added, the RMA changes appear worse and the ag greenhouse gas emissions pricing proposal is unpalatable.

Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ have called foul over the proposal. They now actively oppose the targets and the loss of hill country sheep and beef farms. An 18% drop in lamb production is forecasted to be devastating.

Was it a surprise?

As we report in this issue, critics of He Waka Eke Noa say no. He Waka and the Government’s proposals are similar, except the latter is more transparent.

They say He Waka was always going to hurt sheep, beef and deer farmers because half of He Waka emissions’ reduction was from farms going into forestry. He Waka didn’t include the conversion numbers in its modelling, the Government did. Under both proposals, many hill country farmers will be forced out of business.

The debate over counting existing farm trees for sequestration is seen as a red herring by critics. As the Climate Change Commission said, it would be too expensive to administer and will not give farmers a lot in return. Sorting out the additionality clause would. Credits will only go to the additional management of a native bush block (see p20), not all of it.

Farmers are angry at both schemes. Based on the warming effect, NZ farmers have done well to reduce emissions by 30% since 1990 and are sustainable.

In this year’s January Country-Wide, critics said the main issue was the reduction targets. They were angry that the levy groups had not fought the targets but instead went down a rabbit hole with He Waka.

If levy groups have screwed up, will they feel their members’ anger, and how? Is it no longer a case of advocacy because the Government won’t listen? That it will push its ideologically driven legislation anyway.

So is it the end of advocacy and now it is down to a political solution?

The National Party is still backing He Waka. ACT says it will match agricultural emission reduction goals with NZ’s five closest trading partners.

Whether it is ag emissions, health, education or whatever, a fundamental change similar to 1984 is needed at the next election. NZ can not afford the next government to just tinker around the edges.