The Labour Party's proposal to tax water used for irrigation will fail because lakes and rivers most in need of freshwater clean-ups have low levels of irrigation, says Irrigation New Zealand.
The lobby group's chair, Nicky Hyslop, and chief executive Andrew Curtis met Labour water spokesman David Parker at Parliament today to argue Labour's plan to funnel funds raised from water levies back to the regions where the water came from simply would not work.
"They say the tax collected in the region would be used in that region," said Curtis. "That means about $1 million for Northland", which had some of the most polluted rivers but very little irrigation. "It (the water tax revenue) is not correlated to the size of the issue, so will it achieve anything? We need to get back to polluter pays, bringing towns and other land users into the mix."
Labour's plan is to hold a national conference on becoming government to establish a new regime for freshwater allocation, including settling Maori claims and imposing a royalty at around 2 cents per cubic metre of water used for industrial and farming purposes, unless it's taken from a town supply.
Based on an annual 5 billion litres of water used for irrigation, that would cost farmers around $100 million a year.