National would tax water as well | The Jackal

17 Aug 2017

National would tax water as well

Politics is a strange beast… it requires people to attack others over what they believe, usually because they think it's the best course of action to promote their party. Often those beliefs are founded on a real desire to make people’s lives better, and sometimes those beliefs are founded on a sense of entitlement.

That seems to be the case with the water debate, where the National party has openly criticised the Labour party for proposing a small charge of 2 cents per 1000 litres for irrigation. National has made their attacks public because much of their support comes from the farming community, one of the largest users of water for irrigation in the country.

However National's position on taxing water is entirely false.

Today, Politik reported:

National working behind closed doors on its own water pricing plans

The Government has had its officials working behind closed doors for some time now on proposals to put a price on water.

This is despite its loud opposition to Labour’s proposals to do exactly that.

The Ministry for Environment's Technical Advisory Group's (TAG) investigation into how to allocate water is supposed to complete the latest phase of its work in November – safely after the election.

The group is chaired by former Labour Minister, David Caygill, who didn’t want to comment last night on the progress the group is making.

And Environment Minister Nick Smith has not responded to a number of requests for comment.

Typical response by National politicians when the questions are hard is to ignore them.

But in March Prime Minister Bill English referred to the possibility of putting a price on bottled water for export to the group.

Since then nothing has been heard from them.

But their terms of reference specifically ask them to consider “pricing mechanisms to improve efficiency” in the allocation of water more generally.

However English has been sceptical about this arguing that it would be too hard because of the likelihood of Maori claims once a price was out on water thereby implying ownership.

There’s no question that the National party, if re-elected, will put a price on water for irrigation. Of course their announcement of a water tax would be well managed as to not incite the farmers against them.

The problem for the National party is that they’ve been caught out attacking a policy they're developing in secret themselves. While they criticise Labour for proposing a small fee for using a common resource, who knows how much the National party would charge? They will effectively have carte blanche for putting a tax on water if re-elected.

Combine this prospect with the fact that National have been highly secretive about developing a tax on water and they could be losing core supporters over such duplicitousness.

Farmers and other large users of our water resources clearly want a firm policy and what they can expect from each political party… not back room deals that will likely result in businesses paying far more than what the Labour party is currently proposing.

A vote for National is a vote for a tax on water; they’re just not being honest about it.