Water charges possible post election

Bill English seems to have reacted to public pressure over water exports.

NZ Herald: Government asks for advice on charging for freshwater following public campaign

The Government is asking for advice on whether it should be charging companies to export bottled freshwater in response to rising public pressure on the issue.

Prime Minister Bill English said today that ministers were writing to a technical advisory group today to investigate a price on water allocation, but only in relation to the relatively small bottled water industry.

That is despite Environment Minister Nick Smith emphatically saying last week that it was not worth looking at because bottled water made up a fraction of the freshwater used in New Zealand.

Speaking at his weekly press conference this afternoon, English said he sought more advice because of “growing public concerns” about the issue.

He reiterated that the issue was complicated and that any charge would mark a fundamental shift in policy in New Zealand.

Until now it has not been possible to charge for water, only for it’s distribution and supply (usually through rates or water charges), or the cost of installing and maintaining irrigation systems, or the cost of extracting, bottling and distributing commerically sold water.

“We’re not saying it’s too hard, we’re just saying it’s hard.

“Because it’s a big shift for New Zealand, to say we’re actually going to put a price on water.

“Water has been free, it hasn’t been owned by anybody.”

RNZ: Labour acccuses PM of putting off water tax question

The government is being accused of passing the buck by asking a specialist group to look into the idea of taxing water.

Opposition parties say a similar government group has already looked at the matter and come up empty – and it won’t be any different this time.

But the Labour Party said Mr English was deliberately delaying the question until after the election.

The party’s water spokesperson, David Parker, said the advisory group would make no difference and the plan was “another flip flop from the Prime Minister”.

“Three days ago he was saying nothing could be done, and then he was saying something’s to be done and now he’s saying something’s to be done on the never-never. Flip-flopping like a fish out of water.”

English has left himself open to attacks like this.

However it would be ludicrous to respond to public pressure, which has only been applied in the last week or so, with a hurried law change, even if it was practical to fit it in to the legislative schedule.

Water is a victim of electioneering here.

Just slapping sudden charges on something that has never been charged for before would be nuts – especially given the likelihood there would be Waitangi Tribunal complications.

33 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  March 21, 2017

    typical Govt response,grudgingly admit there is a concern,then make a token effort to address it….’kick the can down the road’,their ONLY…policy.

    • PDB

       /  March 21, 2017

      They have done what a good & responsible govt should do – listen to the people’s concerns and then seek a legal opinion as to the pros and cons of any such change of law.

  2. Griff

     /  March 21, 2017

    Yip as soon as there is a charge for water the iwi greedys will have their hands out for their cut .
    Don’t go there or we will see rural NZ charged for the water they collect on the own roofs and store in their own tanks for their own use.

    • PDB

       /  March 21, 2017

      That appears to be the real concern if the govt decides that water could be taxed……………money collected from the bottling companies should just be pumped directly back into water conservation projects.

      • NOEL

         /  March 21, 2017

        I can understand peoples frustration. I have to pay for the supply of water to my property as a ratepayer but the insult is a GST charge.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 21, 2017

          In the case of council water meters, we are paying not for the water but the cost of storing it, delivering it, processing it, maintaining pipes etc and removing the waste, which is fair enough. There’s nothing to stop any of us collecting water as it comes free from the sky.

          I can’t think why I was so naive that I didn’t see ‘Waitangi Claims’ warnings written in huge red neon letters before this was mentioned on the news.

          No wonder the government is reluctant to make a quick decision on this one.

          If someone stores water and sells it, should they be charged for doing so ? I’m glad that it’s not me having to make this decision !

  3. Blazer

     /  March 21, 2017

    simple solution,all water exported subject to..tax.

    • PDB

       /  March 21, 2017

      So we don’t even look at the treaty of Waitangi and the implications of such a tax?

      Your ‘simple solution’ could be a ‘simple mistake’.

      • Blazer

         /  March 21, 2017

        the simple solution is simple ,no need to worry about..Waitangi.Key word…’exported’.

        • PDB

           /  March 21, 2017

          From a treaty perspective ‘exported’ means nothing when it’s a natural resource that is being exported that apparently nobody ‘owns’ but some people want taxed……

          • Blazer

             /  March 21, 2017

            that is merely your opinion to suit your argument,because you cannot acknowledge just how simple the solution is.Fiji water has been mentioned…15c litre tax goes to govt coffers.

            • PDB

               /  March 21, 2017

              Does Fiji have a treaty of Waitangi equivalent?

            • Gezza

               /  March 21, 2017

              Royalty (tax) on water exports. Like on oil, minerals. Goes to the government, gets fed into the budget. Get it put in place. Argue about how it’s distributed later.

            • PDB

               /  March 21, 2017

              The water bottling ‘royalty’ is hardly an urgent matter considering fresh water is an abundant resource in this country & the amount of water being exported in miniscule – plenty of time to dot the legal i’s and cross the t’s before making a decision……..

            • Gezza

               /  March 21, 2017

              So … plenty of time to put a hold on water exports until the legal issues are resolved?

            • PDB

               /  March 21, 2017

              Why? There is no reason to do so as the current law doesn’t exclude companies from exporting NZ water.

            • Gezza

               /  March 21, 2017

              Quick late night passage of a bill. Done.

            • Blazer

               /  March 21, 2017

              @PDB literally millions of gallons a week is NOT ,miniscule.

            • PDB

               /  March 21, 2017

              Need to sharpen up Blazer – Kiwiblog;

              Bottled water exports 8.7 million litres
              Extracted water 10 trillion litres
              Annual freshwater 500 trillion litres
              Bottled water exports/extracted water 0.000087%
              Bottled water exports/annual freshwater 0.000002%

              Another analogy is distance to the moon. The moon is 384,400 km from Earth. If this represented our total annual freshwater, then the distance representing bottled water exports would be 6.7 metres.

    • David

       /  March 21, 2017

      What about the products that water creates, should they be taxed if they are exported as well?

      • Blazer

         /  March 21, 2017

        no….what examples have you?

        • David

           /  March 21, 2017

          The entire NZ farming industry.

          • Blazer

             /  March 21, 2017

            predictable.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 21, 2017

            Anything grown in the soil.

            Anything made in factories.

            Artworks done in water colours.

            Water-based paint.

            Anything transported in a vehicle with an engine.

      • Blazer

         /  March 21, 2017

        @PDB…pull the other one..8.7mil litres!!….’Okuru Enterprises wants to pipe glacial water from Tuning Forks creek in south Westland directly onto tanker ships anchored about 5.5 kilometres off Jackson Bay for export overseas.

        The project was first granted consent in 1992, including permission to take and export 800,000 tonnes of water – about 800 million litres – each month. The company, a consortium of West Coasters, is seeking an investor to bring the plan to fruition. ‘Stuff…

        Heartland Springs…’
        Initially we could supply about 1 million litres per week for export, as long as this was reduced progressively to about 835,000 litres a week, once our local NZ client demand increased.’

        http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi8p6Wen-bSAhUPtJQKHXHpCTkQFggkMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newshub.co.nz%2Fhome%2Fpolitics%2F2017%2F03%2Fshould-companies-pay-royalties-to-export-water.html&usg=AFQjCNH5F7a773Eb1HEjPY4CHjjq1kuPUQ&bvm=bv.150120842,d.dGo

        • PDB

           /  March 21, 2017

          You are confusing what water bottling companies may want to take in the future with what they take now – hence again there is time to look at the legal side of a bottled water tax before acting.

          You are a classic example of someone complaining now that the govt just doesn’t act straight away but would be the first to complain if the govt didn’t do any considered legal due diligence and made a rash decision that cost the taxpayers a lot of money in the long run.

          • Blazer

             /  March 21, 2017

            granted consent in 1992, including permission to take and export 800,000 tonnes of water – about 800 million litres – each month. ‘…..1992….!!

            • PDB

               /  March 21, 2017

              But they currently don’t do that – ACTUALLY READ the article…..you even quoted the relevant point;

              “The company, a consortium of West Coasters, is seeking an investor to bring the plan to fruition.”

            • Blazer

               /  March 22, 2017

              HELLO,PDB,…HELLO…..todays Stuff….’The latest local flashpoint appears to be the former Kaputone wool scouring plant in Belfast, which Cavalier Carpets is in the process of selling.

              With it will go a lucrative water consent allowing over 120 million litres of water a month to be bottled. That’s 50 one-litre bottles a second. The consent doesn’t expire until 2032 and the only cost is an occasional $100 administration fee from the local council, should they bother to inspect the operation.’

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  March 22, 2017

    It would be impossible to export almost anything that didn’t contain water, Blazey. Fruit-milk-meat….there’s water in almost everything organic, and many things that aren’t.

    • Blazer

       /  March 22, 2017

      it would only apply to water itself…Kitty.So simple even the Natz could introduce it.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 22, 2017

        How some people do hate it when other people are more successful than they are.