Metiria Turei challenged the National Government’s woeful funding of the Department of Conservation and claimed that since 2008 there had been a cut in real terms of $422 million dollars. This concern was expressed in the context of Environment Commissioner Jan Wright’s recent report that stated that 80% of New Zealand’s native bird species were in bad shape and 35% were in serious trouble (close to extinction). Some populations are so small that grandparents are forced to mate with grandchildren and inbreeding within many populations is a major concern.
True to form, Maggie Barry resorted to a personal attack:
“I guess because the member has never been anywhere near Government she doesn’t understand very much about the budget process. The increase in spending in DoC is at $107 million dollars this year, it has been a 20% increase since 2008. The member’s wilful misrepresentation of the figures is pretty pathetic, even by that member’s standards.”
While it must be acknowledged that the Government is embarking on a limited pest eradication programme, this should be regarded in the context of cuts and severe underfunding over previous years. It is the Minister of Conservation who is misrepresenting the facts as Kevin Hague found out in 2016 through Parliamentary Library research.
The following can easily be found through simple Google searches:
- 2009, DoC had to cut its budget by $54 million, or $13.5 million over four years. This meant almost 200,000 hectares of planned pest eradication did not go ahead.
- 2011, one hundred jobs were cut from the department to keep within the restricted budget.
- 2012-13, a further $11.5 million was cut from the the department’s funding, over and above the previous cuts.
- 2013, there were 140 more job losses (330 since 2009, around 15% of the workforce).
- 2016, an associate professor in the school of accounting and commercial law at Victoria University noted that the Vote Conservation for the 16/17 year was $41.8 million less than the previous year.
- 2017, $21 million over 4 years for pest eradication and $76 million to spend on tourist infrastructure.