The Government's Essential Freshwater package will be detrimental to all New Zealanders, not just farmers, says Simon Bridges.

National's leader told The Country's Jamie Mackay the proposals would result in less food production and a smaller economy, affecting the whole nation.

"Whether you're in Grey Lynn or deep Southland that's bad for all New Zealanders".

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A six-week consultation period on the package was not enough time to find solutions, and it seemed the Government was "bullying farmers" said Bridges, who laid the blame with Environment Minister David Parker.

"I think it actually does come back to David Parker. He is a guy who is persistent. He thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. I say this half in jest, I actually believe it - I think he hasn't liked farmers since Jacqui Dean gave him a whipping in Waitaki about a decade or so ago".

Farmers should not look to New Zealand First for assistance either said Bridges.

"If you think NZ First is going to save you, I wouldn't be so sure. I think David Parker believes in this. I think Labour needs wins with the [TV and radio host] Jesse Mulligans of this world, and I think the process shows they're pretty adamant on doing this".

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Bridges was concerned the Government's figures would mean a "wholesale reduction in food production" affecting "60 to 70 per cent of our exports".

"Middle New Zealand's got to know. If you want your health, your hospitals, your education and your infrastructure fixed - we've got to do a few things in this country".

Bridges said the Government's statistics showed an improvement in New Zealand's waterways which meant farmers were already doing their bit.


The quality of New Zealand's water was undeniably important, but Bridges believed the Essential Freshwater package was a "radical" and "crazy" approach.

"What makes me angry about this is it denies the great work farmers are doing and continue to do to improve our waterways".

Also in today's interview: Bridges talked about whether he thought the Labour Party sex scandal was a beltway issue.