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Air and water quality questioned

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Nick Smith
Nick Smith

Wellington, June 17 NZPA - Drinking the water or even breathing the air are risky, according to politicians in Parliament today.

Environment Minister Nick Smith was accused of washing his hands of water quality woes, as Labour's Brendon Burns deluged him with statistics from around the country.

One dire warning was nitrate in ground waters in Canterbury could turn babies blue.

Associate Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, responded that an Attorney-General's report found Canterbury was in good shape, so the argument didn't hold water.

Mr Burns said that report looked only at Christchurch, and even then it found parts of the city supply was substandard.

Dr Coleman said that was up to local councils to sort out, defending freezing a programme to help small communities improve quality of their supplies, saying the Government wanted to make sure those in need got it rather than first in first served.

Offered a bottle of murky coloured water from Kaikoura, Dr Coleman said he would drink if Mr Burns went first.

Neither did, but Speaker Lockwood Smith was moved to ask what members in the back benchs had been drinking as question time washed up for the day.

Green MP David Clendon was earlier blown away by the Government's decision to delay air standards due to come in by 2013 saying lives were at risk.

Dr Smith repeated the Government's position that the air standards would have only penalised business that produced 10 percent of air pollution, and the Government had pumped millions into programmes to help people move to clean heating and had raised standards for vehicles to reduce emissions.

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