Andrew Curtis from Irrigation NZ writes:
Labour’s announcement of a tax water will hit not just the dairy industry but is bad news for all New Zealanders. Labour won’t be drawn on how much the tax would cost. Apparently it may vary by region based on the scarcity and quality of water. And no assessment has been made of how it would affect the average Kiwi.
However, if there’s one thing you can be certain of, it is that like all taxes, it is not actually a tax on the supplier of goods, because like all taxes it will be passed on to the consumer. In the same way that businesses factor in the costs of paying company tax and GST on goods they use, we will all end up paying.
There is an alarming lack of detail around what has been announced. It can hardly be called a policy, or a plan, because all we have to go on is a one page press release. Calls to the Labour Party headquarters asking for more details were fruitless.
There’s a pattern here. As a backbench MP Jacinda did bills that were not actual serious attempts at law making but were one page press releases masquerading as a bill. Now the same approach is happening with policy.
Debate so far has focused on a water tax for dairy farmers as a way to clean up rivers. But around half of New Zealand’s irrigated land has other uses – sheep, beef, crops, vegetables, fruit and grapes. If a water tax is introduced you can look forward to paying more for bread, vegetables, fruit, cereals and lamb and beef as well as dairy products.
In a time when obesity is creating a mounting public health crisis, why would we want to add to the cost of purchasing healthy food for New Zealand’s poorest families?
No doubt Labour will have the solution – another tax!
Labour says that if you have a water consent you will be charged for water for irrigation but if you take water from a council water supply you won’t.
It’s not that easy. It would mean a lifestyle property owner using a council water supply wouldn’t get charged, but another lifestyle block owner down the road who happened to be connected to an irrigation scheme would.
Some irrigation schemes supply towns, so would town dwellers connected to an irrigation scheme pay, or not? Other irrigation schemes generate hydro-electric power with some of their water – which is to be excluded from the tax.
Some local communities have built water storage using their own money. Can you charge communities a water royalty for a supply of water they’ve created?
This is what happens when you just make up policy on the spot.