The Herald reports:
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is warning that Labour’s water taxes could force existing full-and-final Treaty of Waitangi settlements to be opened for renegotiation with iwi.
He said the policy overturned accepted policy of successive Labour and National Governments of the past 25 years that no one owned the water.
Governments applying a tax on water was an assertion of Crown ownership “and then that gives rise to the counter assertion that Maori own water”.
“They are dicing with death, quite frankly,” he told the Herald.
“It opens a complete Pandora’s Box. I’d like to know [if] it is Labour Party policy that, after all the work we’ve done, both political parties over 25 years, are they proposing to re-open treaty settlements so that this matter can be looked at?
“That totally goes against the fundamental principle that has been bought into by 99 per cent of the New Zealand population,” he said.
If you tax something you are asserting ownership of it, and so Labour’s policy will inevitably lead to court action over who owns water.
Finlayson, who is also the Attorney General, said the Government recognised in settlement a very strong personal connection that people have with various rivers.
“Our Whanganui River settlement is a ground-breaking piece of legislation.
“But there is a great step from saying people have an interest, an historical, a cultural interest in water to saying they potentially own it. That is where, in principle, I could never go.”
Using the Waikato River as an example, he asked: “Is it the proposition that Tuwharetoa own from [Lake Taupo] down to beyond Huka Falls and then Te Arawa owns the water thereafter and then Ngati Raukawa and then you get further down the river and it’s Waikato Tainui? Of its very nature, you can’t own water.”
Jacinda’s water tax is a very bad policy. Make sure you tell everyone about it.