A word from Jacqui Dean, Waitaki MP

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It’s hard to beat local knowledge

Whether it’s looking after our land, our water or our infrastructure, you simply cannot beat local knowledge.

Local knowledge has been one of the driving forces behind the success and the strong international reputation of the Central Otago region.

Examples of this range from generational wine-growers and farmers to innovating businesses and tourism operations across our most unique countryside.

Disappointingly, Labour’s appetite for amalgamation is threatening further application of our generational knowledge.

In the farming sector, amalgamation has been proposed in the form of a range of regulations in areas like freshwater and biodiversity.

Farmers sent a clear and powerful message about what they think of many of the Government’s policies at last month’s highly successful Groundswell NZ protests.

One of those messages was that nationwide farming proposals do not take into account regional variances in soil type, farming practices and climate.

One-size-fits-all proposals are not the answer to improving the environment.

My belief is that farmers have been making big environmental gains by collaborating in farmer-led community groups to find best practice methods in their regions.

That is a message I heard again when National Agriculture spokesman David Bennett and I met farmers in Omakau last week.

The Government’s proposals won’t allow those who know the land best to keep building their local knowledge and to continue to innovate.

The same applies in the area of water services.

The Government wants to remove local ownership and control of water infrastructure and hand it to just four entities under its Three Waters proposals.

It’s hard to see how an entity that spreads across almost the entire South Island will have more appropriate local knowledge and a better understanding of the best interests of the Central Otago region than its local councils.

National wants all New Zealanders to have access to the highest standard of drinking water.

But it should be delivered using a community approach.

Applying a one-size-fits-all policy in the area of health care has already been disastrous in Central Otago.

The Government’s failure to understand the effects of rapid population growth, tourist influxes and unique weather and access challenges have left many of our residents cut off from health care services, especially in the area of maternity.

With Central Otago’s proposed water entity spanning much further than the Southern District Health Board’s catchment, there is surely the potential its needs could go unfulfilled, as more money is targeted at larger cities.