Conservation Minister tells Jesse Mulligan to 'cheer up'

The Conservation Minister has fired back at The Project co-host Jesse Mulligan's calls for an urgent funding increase for the Department of Conservation.

Maggie Barry says he needs to "cheer up" after he said it was "mayday" for DoC on Tuesday evening.

He urged the Government to give DoC an additional $100m of funding in the Budget set to be revealed on May 25.

But Ms Barry has shot down that campaign, calling it "a bit of melodrama from a programme that's trying to push up its ratings".

"Cheer up Jesse, it's not all lost. DoC's doing fine, thanks," she said.

"We look at the DoC budget very carefully each year and I think you'll find that there will be some announcements that will interest a lot of people in terms of the extra resourcing we'll be able to supply to DoC," she told Newshub.

Mr Mulligan told Newshub "If Maggie Barry really wants to cheer me up she should put an extra $100 million into DoC's annual budget."

"We've heard from dozens of conservationists, scientists and front-line DoC workers who have warned us that New Zealand's ecosystem is on the brink of failure. In addition hundreds of thousands of Kiwis have watched and shared our coverage of this issue." 

"Those in the know tell us DoC is not doing fine."

Mr Mulligan has previously said we should be embarrassed about how DoC is being treated, an opinion that saw a huge response online.

On Wednesday the Green Party called for a significant funding boost to DoC.

"DoC funding has been chopped by some $336 million since National came to power. Maggie Barry's plan to increase the number of species DOC protects will fail dismally if the department continues to be asked to do more with less," Green Party conservation spokesperson Mojo Mathers said.

Forest & Bird also joined the call for a funding increase, in a statement on Wednesday.

"This Government has just announced a $1.5 billion surplus for the first nine months of the year. This provides a chance to properly fund the Department of Conservation. By giving them just 1 percent of the total national spend it would double their budget," Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

"Budget Day will tell us if the Government has decided to put its money where its mouth is, and provide a real future for our threatened species."

Newshub.

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