National will offer family tax breaks to native birds at risk of extinction

What’s this bird? Who knows? What did it ever do for you?

What’s this bird? Who knows? What did it ever do for you?

The National Government has swiftly announced a plan to tackle the desperate situation of New Zealand’s native birds, after a scathing report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment found that 80% of such species were in trouble, with many headed for extinction.

The native moa was famously hunted to extinction by early settlers after it became too fat to run away anymore, and many of our contemporary native birds are now headed the same way.

The report – which is a lot of pages and could really use some more pictures – found that species of native bird were in serious danger for a variety of reasons, from feral cats, to kea being caught in windscreen wipers, to others being mistakenly fried at Gore’s KFC.

Such was the seriousness of the situation outlined in the report that the Government has moved to reassure the public there are already plans in place to encourage breeding and salvage the birds’ populations.

Conservation Minister and herself a species of endangered bird, Maggie Barry, said that the focus would be on family tax breaks for birds who were struggling to find a “financial incentive” to have children.

“The pressures that affect the decision to have children – and how many to have – are ultimately economic pressures,” she wrote in a statement. “This is why Finance Minister Steven Joyce will tomorrow be detailing a series of tax breaks for endangered birds, to the tune of $25 a week per offspring, up to $100 a week per offspring, as well as a one off $900 tax credit for nest construction.”

The opposition is already criticising the plan, with Labour leader Andrew Little saying the Government isn’t going far enough, and tax credits amount to “poor targeting” of the native bird population, as some species, such as whio, typically don’t have jobs.

“If we’re talking about tax breaks, to have a tax break, you need an income,” said Little, “and a lot of whio don’t even have jobs.”

On Twitter, Barry hit back this evening, accusing Little of calling whio lazy.

“Shame on @AndrewLittleMP,” she wrote. “Your words will be very poorly received in the whio community tonight #hardworkers”

Labour is already struggling with the whio vote, barely registering any support from the blue duck species in the latest One News Colmar-Brunton survey.