It never ceases to bemuse that politicians once they are no longer in government can cry foul and suddenly take the moral high ground. Do they consider people are stupid? Or is it just that they have convenient memory failings, i.e. amnesia?
Take new National Party leader Simon Bridges who on a Newshub interview, March 3, boasted "My record on the environment is strong.”
But let us pause for a moment and recall.
In 2014, as Energy Minister, "he signed off on mining exploration on Department of Conservation land at Victoria Park forest.”
Well Newshub need to get one thing correct. It is not DOC land - it is public land, owned by the people. DOC is the caretaker.
When Bridges was interviewed on television about signing off oil and gas exploration rights for the country’s biggest forest park, he admitted he did not know where the Victoria Forest Park was. For Simon Bridge’s information it is in the Lewis Pass area, near Reefton and Springs Junction.
The Victoria Forest Park aside, what was National’s record environmentally and particularly with the outdoors?
Very memorable, unfortunately, was Environment Minister Nick Smith’s strident snarling denials that rivers were clean. At the same time the news and photos of Canterbury’s Selwyn Fiver, once a dry fly river of high quality and revered by the late George Ferris,, was a stony ditch with occasional algae-infested pools. The Orwell River was similar. The National government led by Smith, ditched the democratically elected Environment Canterbury Council, and put in its own stooge sycophantic, compliant, subservient commissioners.
The same minister (Smith) parroted by a fawning Conservation Minister in Maggie Barry, then launched “The Battle for the Birds” with 1080 as the main weapon to repel imagined hordes of rats. Smith went to ridiculous oratorial lengths, sermonising about rats and predators in “biblical proportions.” Smith seemed ignorant of Landcare Research which showed fast breeding animals like rats swell rapidly in numbers following 1080 drops. Within four years, rat numbers from surviving rats have grown 400 percent from levels before poisoning.
Smith, Barry and Bridges seemed ignorant of 1080 being an insecticide poison which has by-kill of anything else which ingests it. It poisons the ecosystem Thereby birds, animals, such as deer, succumb to the poison. Unlike rats, most are slow breeders and take decades to recover in numbers.
Bridges should be reminded of plundered sea fisheries to name another matter of the legacy the John Key led National government left. Also the sales of farm lands to foreigners, some being iconic high country stations with high outdoor recreation values.
Bridges would do better to think before bragging.
Meanwhile the new government should be watched closely and in particular to see if NZ First delivers on its promises to end aerial 1080, sensible firearm laws, clean rivers, and "sustainable sea fishing with guaranteed access for recreational fishers and the protection of existing game species.”
They should unlike Simon Bridges, realise the people have long memories.
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