I/S looks at two dividing lines between left and right that may help your choice in a month’s time. The first is Afghanistan. Labour has promised to bring the SAS home within 90 days. National won’t commit to withdrawing. The second is water: National wants more subsidies to polluters; Labour and the Greens want businesses to pay for their use of public resources.
On Thursday, I attacked Labour for failing to mention Afghanistan in their foreign policy. Today, they’ve corrected that omission in spades, announcing they would withdraw the SAS within 90 days of taking office. Again, I think that’s a pretty clear choice for the electorate: sacrifice kiwi lives to defend a corrupt, torturing regime – or not. Decisions in the box on November 26.
[to be fair to Labour, I’m pretty sure they always planned to launch a Defence policy and I/S’s criticism of the lack of mention of Afghanistan in the Foreign Affairs policy was jumping the gun. Eddie]
Now that the circus is over, the election campaign has begun. And the Southland Times has started out by trying to make water quality an election issue. Southland is on the sharp end of the dairy boom, and it shows:
89 per cent of all rivers and streams in Southland have a water-quality rating of poor or very poor. We have only one “clean” river, the Monowai in Fiordland.20 per cent of all water bores in the province had bacteria levels, mainly nitrate, exceeding guidelines in the most recent study done, two years ago.
Residents in some outlying towns are regularly warned to boil water before drinking it, because of high pollution levels.
A foul taste, from increased nitrate levels, afflicts the Invercargill water supply in high summer.
The Mataura and Waikaia rivers regularly carry excessive E. coli bacteria.
Nitrate leaching into our waterways has become so prevalent that two years ago Environment Southland tests showed 65 per cent of the sites it was monitoring had elevated nitrate levels.
Waituna Lagoon, once a shining example of our clean, green environment, is now so polluted that scientists fear it is irrecoverable.
This isn’t just an abstract environmental issue. People can’t drink the water because it smells. They can’t swim in the rivers because it makes them sick. That matters, even to people in Invercargill. While Environment Southland recognises the problem, and is cracking down on new dairy farms, they’re wondering what, if anything, central government will do to help.
So, what are the major parties’ policies in this area?
That’s a pretty clear choice then, between pollution and protection, between using a public resource for the benefit of the few and protecting it for the benefit of all. If you care about being able to swim in our lakes and rivers, then you should vote accordingly.