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Burns: Ryall Gags Ministry Advice On Water Health Risks

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Health Minister Tony Ryall is refusing to release advice from the Ministry of Health that is believed to be critical of the Government's delays to improving drinking water standards, says Labour water quality spokesperson Brendon Burns.

An Official Information Act request from the MP for four separate Ministry of Health reports on Government changes to drinking water programmes has been declined.

"I am now urgently appealing to the Chief Ombudsman to review Mr Ryall's refusal to release the reports. New Zealanders deserve this information, and they deserve it now," Brendon Burns said.

"Mr Ryall has received repeated advice from May onwards about the impacts and risks posed by the three year moratorium on meeting World Health Organisation minimum standards for drinking water and changes to the Government subsidy scheme to assist small communities to make water safe.

"The titles of the various reports show that officials are concerned. They talk about 'possible public health impacts' of delays to upgrading the water standards of hundreds of communities from Northland to Southland," Brendon Burns said.

"It's not just residents in communities the size of Kaeo, Ohakune, Opunake, Pahiatua, Reefton and Te Puia Springs who are at risk from water when water is sometimes of such poor quality that it's not safe to drink.

"At least these communities will get funding to improve supplies under the existing regime before tougher rules kick in next year," he said.

Brendon Burns says New Zealanders deserve to know what health risks they face because of the Government's policies to delay minimum drinking water standards and to make it harder for small communities to access funding established by Labour to help them with the cost of making their water safe.

"National MPs representing rural and provincial communities should be demanding this information on behalf of their constituents. It is to their shame that they are not doing so."

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