Players in the country’s biggest exporter earner, the dairy and meat industries, would have shown more than a passing interest in two statements from the Beehive yesterday.
Agriculture Minister announced the roll-out of extra monitoring and a range of practical support to help farmers achieve immediate improvements in intensive winter grazing practices.
Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall released a report outlining recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within NZ Fish & Game, the outfit charged with managing sport fishing and game bird hunting across NZ that persistently harries farmers on environmental issues.
Verrall didn’t say so in her statement (no doubt with the wellbeing of Fish and Game governors in mind), but the review found:
“It is an extraordinary and unnecessary level of governance to have 144 governors (councilors of the regional FGCs and the NZFGC) for an organisation with a turnover of around $11 million., approximately $40 million in assets and 70 or so staff. It was pointed out by several parties that this means there are more Fish and Game councillors in New Zealand than there are Members of Parliament. The governor-to-staff ratio of 2-1 is not in line with best practice about governance ratios and effective teams.”
A culling – inevitably – is among the recommendations from the review team.
It calls for fewer regions by amalgamating some of the existing ones and trimming the numbers on the NZFGC.
Two further Beehive statements alert us to government decisions which will entail the spending of our money.
- A $110 million Spinal Unit and Adult Rehabilitation Unit in Auckland has been given the initial funding go-ahead from the Government. The new, purpose-built facility will replace the existing Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit at Ōtara and the General Rehabilitation Service in the Colvin Complex at Middlemore Hospital, and will form part of the $229.4 million Manukau Health Park super-clinic redevelopment.
- Phase one of the Franz Josef flood protection project has been approved after West Coast councils sought COVID recovery support from the government. The northern stopbanks to protect Franz Josef township from the Waiho River will be upgraded followed by work on the southern stopbanks. This phase involves investment of up to $12.3 million by the government and local councils. The co-funding arrangement involves $9.23 million from government, through the Provincial Development Unit.
Two further statements tell us –
- New Zealand has lifted the travel pause with Western Australia, effective from midday today when Quarantine Free Travel recommenced for travellers who have not been identified as contacts. Travellers identified as close contacts will need to complete 14 days of self-isolation and provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before departure for New Zealand.
- Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta expressed her sadness at hearing of the death of former Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull. He had also provided leadership to Local Government New Zealand as it grapples with climate change, infrastructure deficits, and the impacts of Covid-19.
Damien O’Connor’s statement draws attention to intensive winter grazing (IWG), a farming practice where cattle, sheep and other livestock progressively graze areas planted with fodder crops. If done poorly or too extensively, this can have serious negative effects on both animal welfare and the environment, particularly freshwater and estuary health.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), councils and industry representatives, have developed an online tool to help improve practices to benefit freshwater quality and animal welfare.
In March, the government deferred the introduction of IWG practice regulations until May next year.
“We want people to engage with this module so they will be ready for the upcoming changes.”
At Point of Order, we expect Fish and Game to keep a close eye on farmers’ compliance. It’s the outfit which started the “Dirty Dairying Campaign” in 2002 as a way to voice their growing concern and mobilise public opinion in the fight against the declining ecological health of freshwater in New Zealand.
But Fish and Game has its own issues.
The report released by Verrall outlines recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within the organisation.
Fish & Game has had the same structure since it was set up in 1990.
The report is the result of a ministerial review initiated last year by former Minister Eugenie Sage to ensure its governance and structure were “fit for purpose” today.
The independent review, undertaken by Belinda Clark and John Mills, found Fish & Game plays an important role in environmental advocacy and stewardship.
It also identified “significant opportunities to strengthen governance and management good practices”, which somewhat suggestes they are not now good practices..
Verrall says she is now looking forward to Fish & Game adopting changes which will make it a much more fit-for-purpose organisation in terms of serving its core stakeholders, enabling Māori expression of rangatiratanga and in protecting the freshwater and other values so precious to all New Zealanders.
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28 APRIL 2021