Call for honesty in water debate

  • 14/09/2017

Opponents of water quality proposals are being called on to bring honesty and reality to the debate on improving New Zealand’s waterways.

Water quality has become a major feature of the 2017 election, with soaring public concern about the declining state of the country’s rivers, lakes and streams.

Some farming sectors are fighting back, opposing proposals to improve water quality through a small royalty on water use and are now organising political rallies to campaign against the plans.

Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson says many of the claims being made against water quality initiatives are just plain wrong.

“Much of what is being said is alarmist rabble rousing of the worst sort.  Claims that the proposed royalty will mean milk will cost $40 a litre and people will have to pay $2.80 for a single apple are just nonsense,” Mr Johnson says.

“How is a royalty of two cents a cubic metre of water going to have such a dramatic impact on consumer prices when farmers say paying many times that for irrigation water – 25 cents a cubic metre - is cost effective?

“This issue is just too important to be derailed by political scaremongering,” Mr Johnson says.

“Claiming the royalty on water use is a tax and will mean the end of profitable farming is nonsense.  Royalties are already levied on gold, oil, coal and even gravel and they ensure New Zealanders get a return on what is being taken from their country.

“These royalties haven’t wrecked the economy, so how is a tiny royalty on water any different?” Mr Johnson says.

“Agriculture has been getting a free ride with natural water for years.  Claiming the industry is the backbone of the country wears a bit thin when numerous official reports conclude the environmental consequences have been massive.”

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