Prime Minister John Key has downplayed concerns over foreign companies bottling and exporting water for large profits, saying only “a very tiny amount” is being sent overseas.
Controversy has been sparked by the Ashburton District Council’s decision to sell a property, with rights to extract 40 billion litres of water over 30 years, to an overseas company.
Opposition parties and environmental groups have called on the Government to charge fees for large-scale water takes which are exported overseas.
Why would you charge only if it is being exported? You charge for all or none.
However, Key told reporters in Beijing that governments had operated under a “long-standing principle” that water did not belong to anybody, and could not be sold by the Crown.
“The point is that no-one owns water, and if we’re going to start charging for it, then arguably we’d have to be consistent and charge a lot of people.
Yep. And we should as the market would be better at allocating water than local government officials.
“That means Meridian, when it gets its water and puts it through its hydro schemes, they would need to pay for that water, and Meridian aren’t going to pay the bill, so you the consumer are.”
Key said the access permits were only temporary, while only 0.004 per cent of all water used in New Zealand was bottled and sent overseas.
It is a tiny amount, and as usual xenophobia is behind it. But again Meridian should pay for the water it uses.