17 Jan 2018

Govt hits back at Auckland sewage dumping criticism

3:18 pm on 17 January 2018

The government has hit back at the National leader Bill English's criticism of its water policies, saying his words are hollow populist sentiments.

Bill English speaks to media before announcement

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Speaking to Summer Report this morning, Mr English challenged the government's goals for its first 100 days, saying it was not working on things that would make a real difference.

He was particularly critical of the government's water policies, saying it would be forced to adopt the policy currently in place because it was working in rural areas.

"The big challenge ahead is water quality in urban areas, and of course they're not going to talk about that so much because it will cost ratepayers billions to fix the fact that Auckland city dumps raw sewage into its harbour many times a year," he said.

Environment Minister David Parker said he didn't pay much attention to such comments by Mr English, given National had "failed abysmally" to address such issues while in power.

"Overall factory and council discharges into waterways are far better than they were decades ago," he said.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

"Auckland City still needs to do better to separate sewage from storm water. But it should never be used as an excuse to allow our rural waterways to get dirtier," Mr Parker said.

"Having been in government for nine years and failed abysmally to address water quality issues in NZ I don't pay much attention to his populist sentiments now because I think they are hollow."

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