Fish and Game

The Herald reported:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is considering legal action after he was accused of trying to stop advocacy group Fish and Game from lobbying for cleaner rivers.

Dr Smith attended a meeting with Fish and Game Council, an independent advocacy group, on July 18.

Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes said Dr Smith bullied councillors at the meeting and appeared to be trying to get them to pull back on their lobbying on water quality. …

Dr Smith rejected these claims, saying a Department of Conservation official had taken a record of the meeting which did not match the accusations of political interference.

He told Radio New Zealand he wanted Fish and Game to engage more with agriculture and irrigation in order to get the best outcomes for freshwater quality.

“While it is absolutely right for them to advocate for freshwater, I do think they sometimes got into the space of being anti New Zealand’s most important industry, that being the dairy industry.”

The minister released the DOC official’s notes this morning. One of the bullet points in the notes said: “F&G need to work out what they want to be: a statutory body [with] legislation and a relationship with Government, or an NGO?”

I agree 1000% with the bullet point. Fish and Game can be a body with statutory forcible funding from hunters and fishers or it can be a lobby group where people who share its views voluntarily decide to join it and fund it.  But it can not be both. Lobby groups should be funded by those who share their views, not funded by taxpayers or though a legislative levy.  That is not to say such organisations can not express a view on issues, but there is a line between expressing a view and using your statutory funding to run partisan campaigns.

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