Labour believes cleaning up our rivers so that they are clean enough to swim in is the most important freshwater issue for this election, but that it is also fair that a royalty should be charged where public water is used in large quantities for private gain, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.
“It was reported following my speech to Federated Farmers last week that Labour has abandoned its policy of charging a royalty on farming uses of water. We haven’t.
“At the conclusion of my speech I was asked about resource rentals which I thought was a reference to our NZ Power policy of 2014. I replied that we were not continuing with that policy. I confirmed we would impose a levy on bottled water. This was in addition to our focus on water quality, which I had already spoken about.
“The message of my speech was that we will work with farmers on regulatory change and that there is urgency to act on environmental quality and climate change. We remain committed to setting a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price.
“I wanted to emphasise that the platform we are campaigning on this election will emphasise water quality and a royalty on water used for bottling.
“The chair of the meeting commented that there was a difference between bottled water and irrigation, which I did not reply to.
“This exchange was interpreted as Labour abandoning our wider policy, which we have held since the 2011 election, of introducing a wider royalty on commercial uses of water.
“Labour has not resiled from its policy on water royalties.
“This election we will be focusing on water quality and water bottling, as these are important to all New Zealanders,” says Andrew Little.