Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Labour steps up on water

Labour has followed the Greens' lead and committed to making commercial water users pay their fair share:

Water bottling companies and farmers operating irrigation schemes will pay royalties under Labour's new freshwater policy announced in Auckland on Wednesday.

Newly-minted Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has set out a plan to charge water bottling companies and users of irrigation schemes if Labour's in government after the election.

The policy would be flexible around drought or very wet areas but a rate won't be set until Ardern has an opportunity to consult on the issue, if in government after September 23.

Good. The New Zealand public are being ripped off over water, and in the process we're subsidising the harmful dairy industry to destroy our environment. But water is a public resource, and it is entirely right that companies who profit by extracting it pay for its use, just like they would for oil. Internalising those environmental costs may also help turn the tide against dairy intensification, and push farmers on to a more sustainable track. Alternatively, it might just drive the worst of them out of business. I'm fine either way.

This won't be easy - notably, it will require a Treaty settlement with the original owners - but its a necessary move to save our environment from destruction. And its good to see that Labour has got on board with that.