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Professor of Agribusiness Again 'Muddies The Waters'

Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarh has again 'muddied the waters' with totally unsupportable and outdated claim that the Waikato was one of the cleanest rivers in the World. She was speaking of course to the converted at Primary Land Users Group Meeting in Pukekohe on 3 October.

"People from as far away as Taupo and Coromandel attended the presentation. They were all concerned at the impact of the Waikato Regional Council's Healthy River Plan Change 1 (PC1) on land owners and users throughout the council's area.

The plan change proposal, aimed at restoring and protecting the Waikato and Waipa rivers, was approved last month by Waikato Regional Council for public notification. Councillors were split 7-7 on a motion to approve and the measure was passed on the casting vote of the chairperson Paula Southgate."

(Readers will be aware that the balance on the WRC has now changed for the better way from farming interests, and the 7:7 is probably more likely 9:5 at this point.)

"The meeting was organised by the Primary Land Users Group (PLUG), who had asked Professor Rowarth for her opinion on the state of the rivers running through the Waikato.

The group, representing a cross-section of forestry, dairy, horticulture and dry-stock land-users, has misgivings over what they believe will be "significant negative impacts" that PC1 will have on both the primary sector industries and on rural communities generally throughout the Waikato.

Professor Rowarth told the meeting that the concept of PC1, as presented by the Waikato Regional Council, was founded on modelling which had unreliable outcomes, and that the regulations imposed in the Plan Change did not have a robust scientific basis. She said the social and economic outcomes of the resulting regulations for affected rural communities were considerable."

As you can imagine, her statement was taken apart. analysed and found to be totally without foundation by those who are expert in the field, and who have been working to bring about the changes that she now wants stopped  while "further investigations are undertaken."

Of course farmers are worried about the effects of the PC1 proposals on their pockets, and why shouldn't they be - they have had virtually a free run with the environment since the year dot, and now when the chickens come home to roost, they want 'protection,' because of their special role as economic generators. Well that is no longer sustainable, any more that their continued pollution of waterways, regardless of the encouragement provided by their favourite academic - Jaqueline Rowarth.

The huge embarrassment is that her appointment as chief scientist to the Environmental Protection Agency  earlier this year by Dr Nick Smith has now been been shown be be nothing more that a 'sop' to the farming industry to get one of their own into the most influential position in order to take the pressure off farmers to improve their practices.

Readers will be aware from an earlier post that Prof. Rowarth is not only Professor of Agribusiness, but she is herself a farmer, responsible for her share of the effluent entering the Waikato, and a member of the Fonterra Board. How convenient!

It did not take long for others in academia and elsewhere to isolate her and point out that the data used  was years out of date, and proved northing. Rowarth when approached claimed to have been quoted 'out of context' - hardly relevant, and Nick Smith was on TV the night before last back-peddling at great speed to distance himself from her comments.

One must ask the question - why would the Government appoint a Professor of Agribusiness to what is essentially a scientific role - the top scientific role in fact in the Agency. It is kind of counter-intuitive, but when you think about it goes right along with some of the other crazy decisions by Nick Smith and his cohort.

They must have known what they were buying into with this woman - she has made no secret of her controversial views in the past, and has virtually no academic support whatsoever - she is regarded a a 'maverick' at best, or  as a self-interested belligerant at worst. She obviously has an inflated opinion of the value of her judgement in the environmental area that that is probably enhanced by the level of support provided her by the embattled farming sector.

Here is the report from The Waikato Times on 12 October

And go here to see what I wrote about her appointment back in September.

Believe me, Nick Smith is going to hear a great deal more about this matter before it is all over, and he may live to regret his decision what constitutes a an appropriate Chief 'Scientist.' This is the kind of stumble that has become far too prevalent within this government, and it will continue until changes are made - hopefully in the New Year.




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