NZ Farmer - Wine Marlborough criticised for 'political' stance on Labour's water policy

Marlborough grapegrowers who support charging for water have criticised the industry body that represents them for attacking Labour's irrigation policy.

Wine Marlborough deputy chairman Simon Bishell called it "dangerous" and "deceitful", and said any additional cost would place exporters at a disadvantage.

However, his comments have angered some industry members who say they do not represent their views and that Wine Marlborough should be non-partisan.

The policy, announced earlier this month, includes a royalty on bottled water and a royalty for every 1000 litres, or cubic metre, of irrigation water used.

Labour faced criticism for not setting rates when the policy was announced, but have since said the irrigation royalty would likely be 2 cents per cubic metre.

Churton Estate owner Sam Weaver said he and other grapegrowers that had contacted him were disappointed by Bishell's "inflammatory" comments.

"I don't think Wine Marlborough should be political, it's supposed to be an apolitical body and those comments were just scare mongering," he said.

"The idea that charging a small royalty is going to affect our global markets is arrant nonsense.

"But what it would do is give us the opportunity to demonstrate we're using the resource in a sustainable way."

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