National has come under fire from the Government's agriculture and environmental Ministers for "stupid" and "reckless" comments about its freshwater policies.
This comes after National committed to scrapping some of the new "draconian rules" within the Government's freshwater regulations if it's elected to Government.
"They're gone by lunchtime," the party's agriculture spokesman David Bennett said in a Facebook Live last night, talking about the water policy.
His leader, Judith Collins, was critical of what she saw as bureaucrats in Wellington making all the rules when it comes to farmers, particularly in Southland.
She was sick of these people "bossing everyone else around".
"We should just boss out those regulations."
In a statement this afternoon, however, National clarified that it would only repeal or review nine regulations announced by the Government, such as the removal of stock from natural wetlands.
But, speaking to reporters this afternoon, Environment Minister David Parker warned National against using the "gone by lunchtime" phrase.
"That phrase didn't work for Don Brash last time they used it – and it won't work this time."
This is a reference to the time then National-leader Don Brash said his party would scrap the then Labour Party's ban on nuclear-powered ships "by lunchtime".
Parker said: "What would be gone by lunchtime would be the clean, fresh water that we rely upon for our brand and that we need in order to have rivers clean enough to swim in," if National got its way.
He said that National was attempting to appeal to its base – "Judith Collins' polling has gone down from 35 per cent to 25 per cent. They are trying to shore up their base, instead they are evaporating it".
And Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor was not having a bar of Bennett's comments either.
"It's a stupid statement [which] flies in the face of what most New Zealander's want."
Even James Shaw, Climate Change Minister, climbed into the debate.
"I think it's an absurd statement from someone who is obviously getting increasingly desperate the closer to Election Day we are."
In a press released, the Greens called National's comments "reckless".
The new freshwater rules come into effect on September 3 and follow a period of consultation where – according to DairyNZ boss Tim Mackle – there have been some "significant changes" to the initial proposal.
But some elements of freshwater regulations have come under fire.
Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young, for example, has urged farmers not to get resource consent for some aspects of winter grazing.
But this morning, the Government made some changes to that part of the policy.
The new rules are around pugging – when wet soil is churned up by heavy livestock, such as cows.
The rules aimed to prevent bogging, which would have animal welfare concerns.
But they have been changed to make them less restrictive around high traffic areas of paddocks, such as fixed troughs and gateways.
O'Connor said these rules, as they stood, were simply not practical and has been changed.