David Parker allowed his gaffe from Tuesday's debate to
wash away and shone during last night's Dunedin forum on
The Labour Party's deputy leader drew several rounds of
applause and cheers from a passionate crowd of more than 100
people at the Dunningham Room at the Dunedin City Library
yesterday as he outlined the party's policies on freshwater
management, including a plan to strip the profit margins from
hydroelectricity generation and to impose a ''resource
rental'' on agricultural waterway users.
Moving on from Tuesday's reference to ''low value''
immigrants and in a possible preview of the working
relationship between the two parties, he and Green Party
water spokeswoman Eugenie Sage found common ground and set to
picking apart Dunedin-based National list MP Michael
Woodhouse's knowledge of National's platform for freshwater.
Mr Woodhouse conceded freshwater policy was not his strength
and offered no answers to several questions.
When asked by an audience member about national state of the
environment reporting, he conceded: ''I'm not sure what you
are referring to ... so I'm probably about to get bagged for
something I don't quite understand''.
When asked if trout and salmon would be excluded from an
amended Resource Management Act, he replied - ''No I don't
know, but I can find out''.
And when pushed by a freshwater ecologist on whether doubling
the value of exports by 2025 would come at the expense of
freshwater systems under the new national policy statement
(NPS) for freshwater management, he said: ''The short answer
to the second part of the question, no I'm not sure''.
Mr Woodhouse stated several times throughout the debate that
the NPS did not allow further degradation of waterways, and
Mr Parker and Ms Sage made it a point of contention.
''I just want to qualify ... I said it [water quality]
couldn't drop and I want to qualify that because yes it [the
NPS] does allow it to decline if there is an equal
improvement elsewhere in the region ... while that might not
be likely, it can't be ruled out.''
Mr Woodhouse said National's policies had provided a
framework for improvement of some waterways and maintenance
of ''overall'' water quality and allowed communities to
decide what they felt was the most appropriate state for
Mr Parker said parochialism could be used to improve water
quality if the community bought into the concept.
''I have long held the view that the most important river to
anyone is your local river ... if all of our `local' rivers
are clean then all our rivers are clean,'' he said.
Ms Sage said the Green Party and Labour Party also had common
ground in agreeing river health should be measured by the
ability to swim in it.
''We think people share our view that rivers should be fit
for fishing and fit for swimming and not just for boating and
Dunedin City councillor Mike Lord questioned Mr Parker and Ms
Sage on their ''resource rental'' policies and asked ''why
should one sector of the rural community pay for water when
everyone in town gets it for free?''.
Neither candidate addressed the question directly, although
Mr Parker said the finer details of policy had not yet been
finalised and there would be a ''domestic use allowance'' for
all households, rural and urban.
The loudest applause was reserved for Logan Park High
School pupil Ben Cravens (18) who asked Mr Woodhouse as a
member of the governing party - ''What things are you putting
in place to make sure people like me and my children don't
get stuck with the bill for cleaning up your mess?''.
Mr Woodhouse said National was ''investing half a billion
dollars already into clean-ups, we are setting the national
bottom-lines, we are giving communities the opportunity to
have their say about what those environmental standards for
clean water should be and we are having conversations like