RALLY FOR DEMOCRACY
OUR CITY OUR SAY
2pm, December 1, Latimer square for March to Cranmer Square.
THE PRESEVATION OF A JUST SOCIETY IS OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE
There will be” No water vote” for Canterbury citizens till 2016 or appeal to the environment court. National has sacked the democratically elected representatives and now wants to silence the scientists. We have no community engagement in the Christchurch rebuild and Cera has encroached on the power of the City council.
Private profit comes before public health in the rush to exploit our rivers for dairy conversions and intensive irrigation. There is no specific health representation on the new zone committees set up to allocate our water resources under Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management Act which is being extended till 2016. The zone committees are dominated by farmers and would be irrigators with the odd token environmentalist who is not listened to like the Canterbury Water Rights Trust, which has decided to withdraw from zone committee engagement. The Malvern Hills Protection society has already withdrawn from the Selwyn-Waihora Zone committee. It is a bit like letting the fox decide how many chickens it is going to take from the hen house.
Who is looking after our water quality? I n Canterbury we have no water democracy with the sacking of our elected representatives and the extension of the National government commissioners till 2016 and the taking away of our right to appeal to the environment court under the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Amendment Bill which was tabled in Parliament t7 September.2012
The Canterbury region will therefore not have elections in 2016 for the Canterbury Regional councilors but instead the government appointed Commissioners will continue to govern till 2016. At a recent select committee hearing about this bill in Christchurch feelings were running high and Nicky Wagner cleared the room of the public.
We have reason to be concerned about the health of our waterways.
Dunsandel has its water tested since water from the town well became contaminated with faecal bacteria from animals in 2010 and recently 125 Darfield residents were struck down by gastroenteritis after drinking water contaminated with E. coli. High nitrate levels in private and small water supplies in the Ashburton area are putting newborn babies at risk of the potentially fatal disease methemoglobinemia- also known as blue-baby syndrome.
Board medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey says ‘‘Intensified farming now means that a lot of water is contaminated with animal faeces, especially the Waimakariri after heavy rains, and secondly, the chlorination of this heavily contaminated water fell short of levels required to make it safe. The importance of protecting water from source to tap was ‘‘sometimes lost in political imperatives’’.
Mike Joy has attracted the ire of the Prime Minister because his comments about New Zealand’s environmental record were aired on BBC Hardtalk last year and via the New York Times recently. Prime Minister John Key has likened New Zealand’s “100% Pure” brand to a marketing campaign by hamburger giant McDonald’s – and says no-one expects it to be 100 per cent true. “It’s like saying ‘McDonald’s, I’m loving it’ – I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it . . . it’s the same thing with 100% Pure. It’s got to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt.” He means “the 100 %pure” is just a marketing slogan with no relationship to our environment. In other words it is just a metaphor to exploit the gullible.
Key made this market driven comment amid controversy over criticism by Massey University scientist Mike Joy of New Zealand’s clean, green brand. The government instead of cleaning up its act has decided not to do reports on the state of the environment any more. We have 2788 threatened species and 96 percent of our pasture rivers don’t meet swimming standards. Joy’s criticisms were printed in the New York Times ahead of a major push by Tourism New Zealand around the Hobbit movies, under a deal negotiated by Key as tourism minister with movie bosses.
Joy told the newspaper the reality of New Zealand’s environmental record came nowhere close to matching the 100% Pure brand. His comments have sparked a backlash from, among others, lobbyist Mark Unsworth, who accused him of being on an ego trip. This scientist doing his job is accused of being on an ego trip when he giving some reality to our market driven pursuit of export dollars at the expense of our environment and public health. The public price of private profit is campybacter and the loss of our pure water and our right to swim and fish in our rivers. Talk about shooting the messenger. Our water allocations both past and future need to factor into the profit equation the damage to the environment and the public right to clean drinking water. If we put a price on water so farmers are accountable for their environmental damage then we might have a return to sustainable farming. The legacy of National would appear to be silencing democratic process and crony capitalism redolent of the excesses of Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle where workers health and safety is sacrificed to wealthy industrialist’s profits. John Key has subverted democracy in favour of economic gain. Ironically it is the public purse that will be expected to pick up the tab for the damage done from their pursuit of private profit at the expense of our environment.
THE HEALTH OF OUR ENVIRONMENT IS THE HEALTH OF US ALL.