Water tax would ‘kill’ the Bay

The kiwifruit industry would be among the industries hit hardest by Labour’s proposed water tax, say local National MPs. File photo.

The Labour Party’s proposed fresh water tax will hit the Bay of Plenty hard, say local MPs Simon Bridges and Todd Muller.

Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern announced the policy earlier this week, which includes a royalty on all users of fresh water, including private exporters.

Labour would charge an unspecified royalty for commercial water and use the money to clean up rivers, lakes and streams.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says Labour’s water tax is a huge concern for the Bay of Plenty economy, with the kiwifruit industry valued at $1.6 billion.

“With kiwifruit being one of the fastest growing industries, this tax would kill its competitiveness,” says Simon.

“The tax is only looking at a small group of people like farmers, wine growers, and horticulturalists, it’s not fair on everyone.”

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller agrees, saying the tax will put primary industries and exporters at a disadvantage.

“Horticulture is one of the pillars of our local economy here in the Bay. The wealth this industry generates flows right through our local businesses.”

“How can we expect our primary industries and exporters to compete globally and sell our produce to the world with a Labour Party that not only refuses to back them, but actively puts them at a disadvantage?”

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says the flow on effects will be felt at the supermarket checkout.

"Horticulture is a rapidly growing industry, contributing significantly to the economic wellbeing of New Zealand. Our vision is healthy food for all forever,” says Mike.

“We do not want to see the cost of fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand, supporting local economies and providing jobs, pushed up higher than the cost of imported or processed food. We do not believe the long-term outcomes from a blanket water tax would benefit New Zealanders."

Todd believes Labour needs to be clearer about this tax and says there aren’t enough details.

“They are essentially asking for a blank cheque.”

Labour Party candidate for Tauranga Jan Tinetti says the policy’s details will be worked out with stakeholders after the election, if Labour forms the government.

“In the first 100 days, all the interest groups will be brought together to sit down and have a discussion. It’s funny National is deciding what the tax is going to look like when Labour has said we want to consult after the election. It’s a little but mischief-making on their part, in that respect,” she says.

“But it will not be anywhere near what people are thinking. But we have to take a stand on water, because we have a diminishing commodity here. If we don’t have water, we’re in for huge problems.”

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