DoC is Not Underfunded: Minister
Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, told Q+A this morning that the Department of Conservation got the budget it
required, and denied it was being increasingly underfunded, despite reports from DOC staff that there were not enough of
them – and those remaining had to spend time cleaning toilets and other tourism-related tasks rather than core
She said funding for the department had gone from $316 millon eight years ago to $380 million currently, while
“partnership funding” had also increased.
Ms Barry rejected the idea that the Government was exploiting the ‘feel-good factor’ that corporates and volunteers felt
around helping out in DOC parks and walkways.
But she shared concerned about tourism numbers increasing on some of the country’s estates, in particular the Tongariro
Crossing, while rejecting the idea of a border tax on tourists to cover conservation costs. We’ve just put a border tax
on for biosecurity. There is not much appetite for border taxes to be collected from the likes of Air New Zealand, I
suspect, because they don’t see that as their role,” she said. “I think more directly approaching the option of looking
at the people who pay. At the moment, for example, a lot of people who go to a DOC campground are paying the princely
sum of $6 per night.”