New Zealand Labour Party

New Zealanders deserve better than scaremongering over water

New Zealanders need to hear from National about how they will fund the clean-up of our rivers and lakes for future generations. Instead, National has broadened its scare-mongering, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker.

“Everyone knows our water is too polluted. We know we need to stop pollution getting into our rivers and lakes, so that future generations can enjoy their birth-right to swim in our rivers. The fair way to fund that work is for commercial consumers of water, who profit from access to clean water, to contribute via a clean water royalty.

“National doesn’t want commercial users of water to contribute to the cost of the damage. Instead, National wants pensioners and other taxpayers to pay the cost.

“It’s sad that National are sinking to such low levels in their defence of water polluters.

“First, they made false and outrageous claims about price increases and, then, Chris Finlayson falsely alleged this will reopen full and final Treaty settlements. He is wrong, as Sir Edward Durie - head of the Maori Council, and whose former roles include High Court judge and Chair of the Waitangi Tribunal - has said.

“Labour will respect iwi interests in water and work with them to clean up our water. That’s good for every New Zealander. Minister Finlayson’s “dicing with death” comment deliberately seeks to create tensions over the Treaty. It is sad that, after many years as good service as Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Mr Finlayson has chosen to act this way for political convenience.

“Mr Finlayson knows the settlements with iwi include an express clause stating that freshwater claims are unresolved. The current Ngati Tuwharetoa settlement currently before Parliament Deed of Settlement expressly states does not affect any rights of iwi and hapū in relation to water in clauses 4.17 to 4.20.

“Mr Finlayson also knows the settlements with other iwi – including Ngai Tahu and Tainui – are the same. Each includes a similar clause.

“National’s latest scaremongering can’t cover over the fact that if water users don’t pay a royalty to contribute to cleaning up our rivers, pensioners and working people will foot the bill through their taxes.

“After nine years of worsening pollution and no action, New Zealanders deserve a responsible conversation on how we repair our rivers and lakes for future generations,” says David Parker.