Prime Minister Bill English is running scared from plans to set a fair price for the commercial use of water, the Green Party said today.
The Green Party launched its election campaign yesterday with a policy to protect drinking water, including an interim levy of 10c per litre on companies who bottle and export drinking water, and the creation of a working group to resolve the issue of rights and responsibilities for water.
“In government, we’ll develop a fair way to charge all commercial water users, something that the National Government has avoided responsibility for the entire time its been in office. We’ll do this through a process involving nationwide meetings and hui so that everyone gets a chance to have their say on who has rights and responsibilities for water,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“Bill English is just trying to scare people by claiming that a charge on water will be a tax on hydro-electric schemes. Our policy clearly says that’s not the case.
“By claiming that ‘no-one owns the water’, National has just put the rights and responsibilities for water in the too-hard basket. This is the attitude we’ve seen with them on climate change, the housing crisis and mental health; that it’s either too hard to take any real action, or they look the other way.
“Why would any reasonable government run away from a solution that provides councils and tangata whenua more funding to look after their people?
“Some communities struggle to provide their communities with clean drinking water, and residents have to boil their water every single day to make it safe. Last year, around 45,000 people put up with faecal contamination in their drinking water.
“Communities of fewer than 500 people endure drinking water that meets only 25% of the required standards. Any charge on water can benefit these communities, giving them more funding to manage infrastructure, undertake testing and get technical help,” said Mr Shaw.