[27 May/Stuff]

Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, did not accept that the Government’s freshwater quality targets were unattainable but said the whole country needed to do better. The Policy Statement for Freshwater Management set a goal of having 90 percent of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. Currently 72 percent of the rivers and lakes are classed as swimmable. Mr O’Connor said they wanted swimmable over a generation and farmers could do pretty much anything given clear guidelines and time to adapt. The Government committed $5 million in its recent budget over four years to upgrade the nutrient management tool, Overseer. Mr O’Connor added they had to allow people, through the exchange of knowledge and practices, to move in that direction. He said it was important to be reasonable. Taranaki-King Country MP, Barbara Kuriger, agreed and said the country would need to pull together to meet the set targets.