INDEPENDENT NEWS

NIWA Should Not Threaten Legal Action

Published: Thu 26 Jul 2001 02:34 PM
NIWA Should Justify Itself, Not Threaten Legal Action
ACT leader Richard Prebble says he's concerned that state agencies are increasingly reacting to scrutiny from MPs by threatening and engaging in legal action.
"The Wool Board financed a court case against ACT MP Owen Jennings which has cost Mr Jennings $200,000. New Zealand Post took me to the High Court, and Christine Rankin threatened Sue Bradford with a defamation case.
"Now we have the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), a Crown entity, threatening ACT MP Gerry Eckhoff with libel action because he questioned the accuracy of NIWA's long-range weather forecasts.
"As ACT leader, I've investigated this matter and Mr Eckhoff has produced a long-range forecast for this winter. It predicted average rainfall over the whole country, with average to above average temperatures.
"Mr Eckhoff advises me that as a high country farmer, he's aware of fellow farmers who acted on the NIWA forecasts in their farming decisions. They now find themselves in serious strife because in many parts of the country it has been a dry winter.
"Mr Eckhoff is accurate in his statement that a lack of rain in South Island catchments has contributed to the electricity crisis.
"It's a serious matter, in a country where the weather has a profound effect on electricity generation and the performance of the primary export industry, when NIWA, the government agency charged with producing long-range weather forecasts, can get it so wrong.
"Our Parliamentary system depends on fearless scrutiny by MPs. The Clark government seems to be condoning the use of the courts by state agencies to prevent scrutiny. This is a serious development.
"I'm writing to the Prime Minister, asking her to issue a Cabinet instruction that state agencies are not to threaten MPs with legal action. In a democracy, the state agencies' response should be to justify themselves, not threaten legal action," Mr Prebble said.
ENDS

Next in New Zealand politics

Jacinda Ardern’s remarks following summit
By: New Zealand Government
NZTA Board refreshed and refocused
By: New Zealand Government
Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Assessment Framework
By: New Zealand Government
Mana whenua reach decision on Ihumātao land
By: RNZ
PM to visit Japan and attend the UN General Assembly
By: New Zealand Government
PM's Post-Cab 16/9/19: A Way Forward
By: The Scoop Team
Gordon Campbell on allegations of left wing media bias
By: Gordon Campbell
Tighter gun laws for the safety of all
By: New Zealand Government
New Zealand-Japan relationship strengthened
By: New Zealand Government
eGates open to Japanese travellers
By: New Zealand Government
Twyford is the issue, not the board
By: New Zealand National Party
Too little too late for funding switch from rail to road
By: New Zealand National Party
First national voluntary emissions offset guidelines
By: New Zealand Government
NCCRA a start but local focus needed
By: LGNZ
Forest & Bird calls for urgent action on ocean acidity
By: Forest And Bird
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media