This joke redefinition of ‘swimmable’ so that National can pretend to have 90% of our rivers and lakes ‘swimmable’ by 2040 is dangerous.
Firstly, it sends the clear signal that National have no intention whatsoever to force their corporate farming mates to halt dairy intensification.
Secondly, it sends an even more dangerous message to us as New Zealanders that this Government can just lie directly to our faces under the belief that we will accept it.
The Government redefinition of ‘swimmable’ as water that doesn’t directly burn your eyes, ears or lips and will only make 1 in 20 sick is a farce and it says the Government thinks we are idiots...
Ninety percent of rivers and lakes swimmable.
What part of that doesn’t sound good? None of it until you realise what the Government considers “swimmable”.
In the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, for a body of water (be it a river or lake) to get an ‘A’ rating, it has to have rates of E. Coli (the bacteria that gives us campylobacter), less than or equal to, 260cfu/100mL, 95 per cent of the time. It used to be 99 per cent A reading above 260cfu/100mL means there is certain risk to human health.
This doesn’t seem to phase the Government though. Why let public health get in the way of achieving? As far as it is concerned, a few tests above that level (up to 5 per cent), and that river or lake is still an ‘A’. Yes, a river that makes 1 in 20 sick, gets an ‘A’. Sound ridiculous? It gets worse.
The Ministry of Health’s 1992 Provisional Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Recreational and Shellfish-Gathering Waters in New Zealand suggests that water with less than 235cfu/100mL is optimum, with anything higher best avoided. How is 260cfu/100mL suddenly ok? What’s changed? Are we all of sudden better at dealing with E. Coli? Furthermore, compare the Government’s new standards to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guideline standard of 40cfu/100mL of water (at this limit the WHO considers water to have no observable adverse effect on human health) and the limit of 260cfu/100mL looks ludicrous. I’d love to ask the WHO its thoughts on us swimming in water with 260cfu/100mL, let alone the equivalent of a ‘B’ rating of water with 540cfu/100mL.
…right, so the Government have just renamed cow shit in water as ‘candyfloss’. Next they’ll eliminate all murder by redefining it as involuntary death and children in poverty will now be called ‘Future Jobseekers’.
We have suddenly sat up and noticed this alternative fact masquerading as truth because we all love fresh pure water and can see that pure water in our minds eye. We don’t however notice the lie when it’s being used to damage people we don’t see in such simplistic terms as fresh water.
Take the farce of National’s welfare reforms. Throwing beneficiaries off welfare and then hailing the lower stats as successful social policy is as much an alternative fact as dirty water now being called fresh water.
Take National’s Charter School experiment. It’s simply code for finding a way to cut teacher costs, it’s got bugger all to do with the welfare and education of our children.
Take the CYFs reforms – this is about throwing kids into the first family CYFs can find to cut costs.
Take the private prisons – they’ve been put forward as a way to save costs, yet the cost to the Government continues to spiral upwards as more and more NZers are locked up in prison.
Each of these right wing experiments are a manipulation of the facts to continue draconian and cost cutting social policies, but most ignore and shrug because it’s aimed at criminals, vulnerable children, poor children, Maori, Pacific Islanders, working poor and beneficiaries.
Pure rivers however we can all jump up and down about because being the easily led hobbits that we is, this image…
…carries more political weight in the anti-intellectual public toilet of popular opinion than brown, hungry and/or hurt people.
So let’s use the clean rivers juxtaposition as our rallying point, let’s hammer this image repeatedly to get through to the masses, but let’s not pretend that our inability to recognise the same political deceit used on weaker members of our society means their plight is any less pressing than cleaning up our rivers.