Today the Country's Jamie Mackay has 10 questions on the Government's freshwater proposals for National's Primary Industries spokesman Todd Muller. Tomorrow, he will ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the same 10 questions.
Comment: Everyone wants cleaner waterways. It's how we get there that's the contentious bit for me.
But first, I have to declare an interest here. As the host of a rural radio show on Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport, I have a vested interest in going into bat for the primary sector and I'm personally heavily invested in it.
I'm also in the privileged position of having a nationwide radio show that infiltrates urban New Zealand, one of very few such voices.
On today's show I threw the following 10 questions at National's Agriculture Spokesperson Todd Muller.
Tomorrow it's the turn of Jacinda Ardern. I will be most interested in her answers:
1/ How many other populated agricultural nations in the world are demanding waterways to be effectively pristine from source to mouth? New Zealand never has been in the past. Our rivers were utilised sewers and industrial drains as recently as the 1970s.
2/ Have farmers been given sufficient time meet the 2025 deadline? Why not, for instance, 2030, if this a generational change? And a six-week consultation period for farmers at the busiest time of the year! Surely that's a badly timed joke?
3/ Will this new water policy crash land values (especially in the likes of intensive irrigated Canterbury land) where nitrogen use must drop by up to 80 per cent? Will these landowners be compensated if an alternative land use is not as profitable?
4/ What is the real cost of compliance? The Government is estimating $10k per annum for a lowland dairy operation and $15k pa for a rolling hill country sheep and beef farm. From whose backside were these figures plucked?
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Listen: Is the Govt too tough on the primary sector?
Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Todd Muller below:
5/ What effect will the cost of compliance have on regional council rates for urban and rural folk alike? Auckland would go broke if it had to fix its water woes by 2025.
6/ What about the cost to our economy? Do you think we run the risk of killing the golden goose? The primary sector makes up 70 per cent of our export earnings. Of that, 28 per cent comes from the dairy industry.
7/ Is this water plan tougher on farmers than urban dwellers? Do cities have to have their house in order by 2025? Why do rural rivers have to be swimmable but urban rivers less so?
8/ Besides, to play devil's advocate, what's with the fascination of swimming in rivers? Isn't that dangerous? Isn't that why we built school swimming pools in the 1950s, 60s and 70s?
In Southland, for example, there's literally about one month of the year in which you could feasibly swim. Would it be cheaper to reinstate all the school swimming pools that have been closed down and teach kids to swim in safety? Heck, for the cost of this water plan to the economy we could probably build an Olympic-sized pool in every town in the country!
9/ Where's Winston on this? NZ First, the champion of the regions, has been strangely silent? Will Winston abandon ship, jump waka, on this one?
10/ How much of this policy is a sop to the green, urban, liberal vote that is daily being fed a somewhat distorted view of what's really happening on farm?
I'm not defending the indefensible, and some of the footage we have seen is totally unacceptable, but 95 per cent of what's happening out there on our farms is really good.
My eternal hope is urban New Zealand gets to see it and recognise it. The primary sector help to pay for all the good things the government is doing around the likes of mental health and making New Zealand a fairer society.
Surely, in Māori language week, we're all in this water waka together?