Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not too hard after all

Bill English thinks charging for water is "too hard". Fortunately Andrew Little is up for the challenge:

Labour wants to introduce a charge on water exports and says the Government is "kicking the can down the road" by not addressing it before the election.


Labour leader Andrew Little said the issue of putting a price on the country's water was a "real issue now", and Kiwis were concerned about it.

"This is just another example of this government kicking the can down the road. We've seen it with superannuation - coming up with an idea but nothing's going to happen until after the election," he told Radio NZ.

Little said Labour would put an "appropriate levy" on water use, but couldn't say what that might be.

"I'm not an expert and specialist in this area but most people would say if you're coming here taking this water untreated, untouched ... then fairness dictates you should give something back."

And that's the key point here. When companies extract our gold, silver, oil and gas, they have to pay a royalty on it. The same should be true of water. Of course, that immediately introduces a Treaty issue, because like the oil and gold, ultimately that water belongs to Maori. But that's not insurmountable. Its simply a question of government priorities and will.

Little doesn't want to charge farmers, our biggest water profiteers. But even a charge levelled only on water bottlers is a start, and establishes the principle that those who profiteer from public resources should pay for it.