The progress on Southland’s Waituna Lagoon since the Catchment Action Plan was released last year is to be applauded.

The National-led Government put in $780,000 earlier this year from the Fresh Start for Fresh water Clean-up fund to assist with stream rebattering, constructed wetlands, sediment traps and lagoon openings.  The real achievement has been the collaboration between the local regional council and farmers to fix the ailing lagoon and the problems caused by intensive farming.

According to the latest report, local farmers, Dairy NZ, Fonterra and Environment Southland are making strong progress with 70 per cent of identified farm management recommendations having been implemented up to October 2012. The stakeholders say this represents an investment of $1 million by farmers to protect the health of the lagoon.

The investment by farmers in a tough year and the commitment by Environment Southland staff is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to tackle a major issue and try and solve it.

Waituna’s issues will be ongoing, but this work shows what a difference can be made when parties work together for the environment.

Speaking of working together, recent headlines would have some believe the Government is doing nothing about recent job losses.

There is a double-edged sword to this.  Say, for example, the Government stepped in to the commercial negotiations between the smelter and Meridian Energy, a dangerous precedent would be set.

We would have other large businesses (and probably more than a few small and medium ones too) expecting us to do the same for them.  Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it distorts the market and we have seen what issues come from Government intervention – just take Greece as an example.

On the other hand, if we do nothing, we are still criticized.

Our Business Growth Agenda is a detailed programme of initiatives to build a more productive and competitive economy. They constitute a comprehensive agenda of microeconomic reform to assist businesses to be more internationally competitive.

It complements our macroeconomic commitments to responsibly manage the Government’s finances and deliver the ongoing stability businesses need to have confidence to invest, grow and create new jobs.

The Business Growth Agenda is about ensuring businesses have access to the six key ingredients they need to grow, create jobs and be successful. They include access to markets, innovation, skills and safe workplaces, capital markets, infrastructure, and resources.