Anne Salmond: NZ can’t ignore water warnings

“While the government cites William Blackstone (an early authority on English common law) to the effect that “no one owns the water”, Blackstone was equally adamant that no water user has the right to pollute, foul, corrupt or divert and stop waterways in ways that deprive others of their “lawful enjoyment”. This might be news to many dairy farmers, foresters and developers in New Zealand.”

University of Auckland’s Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond responds to the OECD’s report on New Zealand’s environmental performance with suggestions on how the fresh water crisis might be tackled

The OECD’s report on New Zealand’s environmental performance is crystal clear. New Zealand’s 100% Pure reputation is at immediate risk from the degradation of many New Zealand lakes and rivers. International media, buyers of New Zealand products, tourism interests and public opinion polls have all been ringing alarm bells, and now the OECD itself has joined the uproar.

As the report notes, “fresh water is a fundamental asset underpinning New Zealand’s economy”, in primary production as well as tourism and many other industries.

While leaders in national and local government and primary production have tried to shut down freshwater scientists and others warning about the damage to New Zealand’s waterways, they can’t ignore this message from the international community. Decisive action to enhance the state of many springs, streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater and aquifers across the country must be taken.

Although much was hoped from the Land and Water Forum, which for almost a decade has brought key stakeholders together to agree on ways of taking care of New Zealand’s water courses, the government has not listened to most of the Forum’s recommendations. At the regional level, too, collaborative processes have often been hijacked by powerful commercial interests.

In addition, iwi claims to proprietary interests in ancestral waterways have been upheld by the Waitangi Tribunal. In response, the government has argued that “no one owns the water”. Conversations between the government and iwi leaders about this are conducted in private, despite acute public interest in how fresh water in New Zealand should be managed.

The OECD recognises that iwi interests in waterways have to be resolved if freshwater management in New Zealand is to move ahead. The report highlights the need for the application of national standards at the catchment level to be independently monitored. It also notes that charging for the commercial use of fresh water and polluter pays charges might be considered.

Sir Eddie Durie and the New Zealand Māori Council have suggested that in order to bring greater consistency to the management of waterways across the country, and to recognise iwi interests in fresh water, an independent Waterways Commission might be established. If closely linked with the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, this would have a number of advantages.

If charging for the commercial use of fresh water is introduced, it is imperative that this income flow is not privatised. All New Zealand citizens have a stake in the country’s waterways, and if water charges are introduced, this funding should be dedicated to improving fresh water quality for the benefit of all, including iwi projects to enhance ancestral waterways, as in Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act.

The visionary recognition in Te Awa Tupua Act of the rights of waterways themselves could be extended to other waterways. Rivers, springs, streams, wetlands and lakes existed long before people arrived in New Zealand, and as both the Whanganui people and the OECD recognise, human beings depend on freshwater ecosystems for our health, prosperity and survival, as much as the other way around.

While the government cites William Blackstone (an early authority on English common law) to the effect that “no one owns the water”, Blackstone was equally adamant that no water user has the right to pollute, foul, corrupt or divert and stop waterways in ways that deprive others of their “lawful enjoyment”. This might be news to many dairy farmers, foresters and developers in New Zealand.

The legal rights of all citizens to enjoy waterways across New Zealand should underpin the work of a Waterways Commission. It is vital that the application of national standards for fresh water is nationally monitored by an independent body, to ensure that the management of waterways and any funding from water rights are not hijacked by private interests.

The OECD’s report is a call to action. Declining standards for fresh water in New Zealand must be decisively tackled. A Waterways Commission – one that is truly independent and well resourced, reconciles the rights and responsibilities of iwi with those of other citizens, and takes good care of our waterways – would bring urgency and national oversight to this task.

Dame Anne Salmond is the Patron of the Te Awaroa: 1000 Rivers project. She was the 2013 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

Source: Anne Salmond: NZ can’t ignore water warnings

China threatens reprisals on NZ dairy, wool and kiwifruit if government doesn’t back off cheap steel inquiry | Stuff.co.nz

Those seeking trading partnerships with China should be wary.
Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says struggling farmers can’t take another hit from a trade war with China. China has threatened “retaliatory measures” against New Zealand trade, warning it will slow the flow of dairy, wool and kiwifruit imports.

The world’s biggest trading nation is angry at New Zealand inquiries into a glut of Chinese steel imports flooding the market; the Chinese believe New Zealand is part of a US-led alliance to target Chinese national interests.

The behind-the-scenes threat comes just days before the arrival of US Vice President Joe Biden in New Zealand, forcing government and commerce officials to scramble to open urgent talks with China. New Zealand is angry that China should take such a combative approach, and is asking that it desist.

Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard fears the impact of a vengeful China – but says New Zealand must stand up for its free trade principles. “The rules are the rules.”

Pacific Steel, the sister company of iron miner and processor NZ Steel, has lodged a confidential application, under local and World Trade Organisation rules, for an investigation into China dumping cut-price steel on the New Zealand market. The local industry is struggling to compete with the glut of sometimes substandard Chinese metal, which is being used in major projects like the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection and bridges on the Waikato Expressway.

Right now, lawyers for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are deciding whether the investigation should proceed, which could result in punitive anti-dumping tariffs against China.

But somehow, China learned of the application – and it is taking retaliatory action.

In the past week, representatives of New Zealand’s biggest export industries have been called in by Chinese officials, and told to exert their influence to make sure the MBIE investigation does not go ahead.

To up the ante, they have been told China has begun consulting with its local food producers about imposing reprisal tariffs to slow down the access of New Zealand dairy, wool, kiwifruit and potentially meat to the 1.35 billion-strong Chinese consumer market.

Local producers are alarmed.

“A trade war with China is definitely not in our interests,” says Andrew Hoggard, a Manawatu dairy farmer. “It’s about 20 per cent of our markets and we’re getting good market penetration with added value products in there.”

Hoggard, who chairs the Federated Farmers dairy division, said many farmers were still struggling to meet mortgage payments and a number had been forced off the land, after last year’s very low milk solid prices. The last thing they needed was to be slammed by Chinese trade barriers.

Highly-placed sources have confirmed China is applying pressure in an attempt to sway regulators away from imposing anti-dumping or countervailing duties – which are imposed when goods are subsidised – on imported Chinese steel. Zespri and Fonterra are said to have been heavied, and other exporters may have been.

Pacific Steel’s parent company BlueScope Steel has also been strongly critical of the anti-dumping protections against Chinese imports in Australia, and is said to have applied for punitive measures there, as well. In New Zealand, Pacific Steel did not respond to a request for comment, and MBIE’s acting manager of trade, Karl Woodhead, said the ministry could not confirm or deny if it had received an application.

Under World Trade Organisation rules “applications relating to anti-dumping or countervailing duties are confidential unless investigations are initiated”, begging the question of how China found out.

The world’s biggest trading nation believes the United States is leading an alliance of sycophantic nations, doing the US bidding by shutting down Chinese trade and trying to force its military out of the contested islands and atolls of the South China Sea.

Joe Biden landed on the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on Friday, where he told crew, “we’re going to be active in the region as long as all of you are alive”.

He flies into New Zealand on Wednesday – and it seems certain relations with China will again be high on his agenda.

The US and the EU have been at the forefront of actions against Chinese steel exports. They believe China is dumping steel at prices far below the cost of production with its output far outstripping demand as its economy slows.

The US has imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of up to 450 per cent on corrosion-resistant steel from China in the latest move against its steel exports. China described the move as “irrational”. China would likely view any New Zealand move on steel as part of an orchestrated attack on its steel exports led by the US. However NZ industry representatives and officials have made it clear MBIE’s processes are independent and rules-based and are not influenced by foreign powers.

China’s unusual tactics have caused government and industry to close ranks. The Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) has denied consulting on retaliatory tariffs. Fonterra spokesman Phil Turner and Zespri’s chief operating officer Simon Limmer both denied any knowledge of the Chinese industry consultation.

But trade expert Charles Finny, who has worked on China-New Zealand trade issues for decades, said sources in Government confirmed at least one major exporter had been told “the Chinese Government would like pressure to be applied to MBIE”.

New Zealand was the first country to recognise China as a market economy – a fact that is likely to have sharpened China’s response to any NZ move.

China believes any anti-dumping move against its 600,000 tonnes of exports to New Zealand would be out of proportion, when the value of the imports from China were less than 6 per cent of total New Zealand imports of similar productIt has said it thought New Zealand and China were “at peace” on trade issues – but apparently not.

Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng had been expected to raise the Pacific Steel complaint at his meeting with Trade Minister Todd McClay in China this week, where McClay was attending the G20 meeting. But McClay said no competition issues were raised.

Chinese ambassador Wang Lutong said there was no issue with the imported steel quality but the embassy had been discussing the industry’s concerns with New Zealand authorities.

Speaking to TV3’s The Nation in unscreened footage this weekend, he said: “I have no idea where the media got this information from. I couldn’t possibly comment on the motivation and intention of those reports. What I can say is, we will have a very detailed investigation of any report concerning the quality of steel, and we spoke to your people about that. But I think both sides are satisfied with this procedure.”

NZ First leader Winston Peters said China was “monstering” Fonterra, Zespri and the NZ steel industry. “And as for the upgrade of the trade agreement, it’s all dependent on what stance we take on the South China Sea. That’s the reality of it now.

“I can’t believe the ministers haven’t talked. You’ve got officialdom and business operating in isolation from government.”

The Chinese Embassy had not responded to specific questions, by deadline.

– Additional reporting Gerard Hutching

 – Sunday Star Times

 

Source: China threatens reprisals on NZ dairy, wool and kiwifruit if government doesn’t back off cheap steel inquiry | Stuff.co.nz

Water is too valuable to squander. Anne Salmond – NZ Herald News

“If I am the river and the river is me – then emphatically, I am dying.” Whanganui elder

Across New Zealand, people from many different backgrounds have a deep and passionate connection with their waterways. From children who grow up swimming and playing in and beside streams, rivers and lakes, to those who fish for whitebait, eels or trout; from iwi with powerful connections with ancestral waterways, to kayakers, rowers and waka ama paddlers, rivers run through our lives. Rivers, waterfalls and lakes are part of who we are as Kiwis. When streams or rivers dwindle and disappear; or are choked with sediment and forestry debris; or become toxic with algae and too dangerous to fish and swim in, many of us experience grief or anger. This was evident in the videos filmed by the ‘Choose Clean Water’ group of young people who travelled around New Zealand over the summer, talking with Kiwis in many different communities about the state of their waterways. They collected thousands of signatures on a petition to Parliament, asking that the Government ensure that our streams and rivers are safe to swim and fish in. In response, the Minister for the Environment said it was not practical to achieve this, an answer that dismayed many Kiwis. Anger has also been aroused by stories about private companies extracting millions of gallons from local aquifers for derisory sums, selling the water offshore and making vast profits in the process.  read more..

Source: Anne Salmond: Water is too valuable to squander – National – NZ Herald News

How New Zealand’s rich-poor divide killed its egalitarian paradise | Max Rashbrooke | Opinion | The Guardian

A new report shows New Zealand’s economy has been most affected by inequality out of all the OECD nations. How did the land of the fair go end up in such a state?

In the 1940s, New Zealanders hated inequality so much that one visiting academic suggested they should erect a statue of equality in Auckland harbour, as a counterpart to the United States’s celebrated sculpture. And that image lingers: many people still think of New Zealand as an egalitarian paradise, a friendly and accommodating country where “a fair go” is the national phrase.

Those observers, and indeed many New Zealanders, might have got a shock this week when the OECD published a landmark report, showing that economies the world over are being hamstrung by growing inequality – and that New Zealand was the worst affected. A stark rich-poor divide, the OECD argued, had taken over a third off the country’s economic growth rate in the last 20 years. But how could this be?

Source: How New Zealand’s rich-poor divide killed its egalitarian paradise | Max Rashbrooke | Opinion | The Guardian

Dealing with criminals in climate fraud | Geoff Simmons, originally published in the Dominion Post

OPINION: The Government’s plan for meeting our Kyoto Protocol commitment and 2020 emissions reduction target was released this month. It reveals a shocking truth: New Zealand has been a willing participant in a wholesale climate fraud. We’ve been dealing with criminals and fraudsters in order to meet our international obligations. If our reputation wasn’t shot to pieces after Paris – where we revealed our weak kneed 2030 target – it will be now. Carbon trading is a fine idea, but it only works if the credits we buy actually represent a true emissions reduction somewhere else. The sad truth is that the foreign credits New Zealand has gorged on up until now have produced little to no climate benefit.  New Zealand’s main vice has been a particular type of carbon credit called the Emissions Reduction Unit (ERU). These are issued for emissions-reducing projects in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol. The idea is that the revenue from selling ERUs would make projects viable that wouldn’t be otherwise. Over 90 per cent of ERUs have come out of Russia and Ukraine, and under Kyoto they were allowed to authorise their own projects. No surprise that when they were externally audited this year, 85 per cent of the units didn’t stand up to scrutiny. They are essentially worthless bits of paper. The EU got wind of the games being played years back and started to clamp down on the use of these credits…

Read the remainder …

Source: Dealing with criminals in climate fraud | Stuff.co.nz

On the brink of WWI overload – Opinion| Stuff.co.nz

ALASTAIR PAULIN, Opinion.

“The story we tell ourselves about Gallipoli is that the Anzac forces fought bravely in terrible conditions, and in doing so, established a reputation of which we should be proud. And so we should. But the other part of the story that is buried under millions of symbolic poppies is that those soldiers fought for nothing. The campaign was abandoned, the surviving soldiers evacuated, and in strategic terms, the deaths of 2779 New Zealanders and more than 8700 Australians, among Allied deaths of 44,000 and 87,000 from the Ottoman Empire, made barely any difference to the war’s outcome…

via – ipad-editors-picks | Stuff.co.nz.

Paul Little: Isis an excuse to peek at us – Politics – NZ Herald News

Senator Joe McCarthy couldnt have done better. In 1950, he invented reds under the bed when he stood up before the Ohio County Womens Republican Club and said he had a list of more than 200 workers at the State Department who were “known Communists”.He had no such list, but the so-called wars on communism, terror and even drugs for that matter, have always depended for international support on fostering fear of attacks at home.Somewhere, McCarthys spirit was surely watching and smiling approvingly this week as John Key announced that up to 80 New Zealanders had links to Isil. Some call this organisation Isis, IS or even Daesh, but Barack Obama calls it Isil so thats what Ill be doing.I thought a third term in office might have seen the PM kick back a bit and treat the electorate as intelligent individuals, but not so. In answer to the question “How gullible does he think we are?” the answer is still “Incredibly”.

via Paul Little: Isis an excuse to peek at us – Politics – NZ Herald News.