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Federated Farmers against 'water tax'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/03/2017
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Federated Farmers say Kiwi consumers would be left paying a new tax if the government starts charging for access to water.

It comes on the back of the export of bottled water becoming a hot political issue last week when a petition was presented to parliament asking for a moratorium.

Backers of the petition said companies were taking water from aquifers and springs at no cost and making a profit from it, with the government on Monday asking an expert advisory group to look at whether they should be charged for using it.

But Federated Farmers spokesman Chris Allen did not support charging for water, saying the costs would be borne by consumers, such as electricity customers of the Manapouri hydro scheme, which accounted for 41 per cent of usage.

"Consumers would simply end up paying for essentially what would be a new tax," he said.

"If water that goes through river-powered hydro power stations was also taxed, then New Zealand power consumers would pay close to 90 per cent of the water tax."

He said foreign companies wishing to use New Zealand water should instead gain approval from the Overseas Investment Office by showing they bring a "significant net benefit" to the country.

However, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) environmental performance of New Zealand report released on Tuesday recommended authorities consider using broader "economic tools" to manage water.

This included introducing fees to cover government costs of managing water and penalties for water pollution or to enable a market to trade credits based on polluted water.

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