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Govt boasts of taxpayer subsidies for water polluters

Govt boasts of taxpayer subsidies for water polluters

John Key is boasting about the hundreds of millions of dollars that taxpayers are spending to clean up rivers and lakes while he pours cold water on any suggestion that the industry causing the pollution should contribute to the cost, the Green Party said today.

“The Government boasts about the amount of money taxpayers are shelling out to clean up polluted rivers and lakes, but why shouldn’t the industry causing the pollution make a contribution?” said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

“Not only is the Government balking at putting a price on irrigation water, but they are proposing to use more taxpayer funds to subsidise further expansion of the dairy industry in Canterbury and elsewhere.”

Although scientists have identified land use intensification as the leading cause of water pollution, John Key’s Government has plans to accelerate land use intensification through irrigation subsidies.

“The growth of irrigation will simply fuel the need for greater taxpayer funding for water clean-up initiatives. Private agri-business takes the profits and taxpayers pick up the tab,” said Dr Norman.
“In contrast, the Green Party has a plan for curbing water pollution and paying for water clean-up initiatives without taxpayer funds.”

Yesterday the Green Party launched a plan to clean up New Zealand’s rivers and lakes which will set standards for clean water and introduce a fair charge for irrigation water. The revenue generated from this charge will be used to support water clean-up initiatives.

“Many farmers in New Zealand make a living without using our public water resources to generate private profit, and those who do should pay,” Dr Norman said.

“A charge on irrigation water is an effective price signal to more efficiently allocate a scarce resource and is in line with the OECD recommendation that we put a price on agricultural uses of water.

“It makes smart economic sense to implement a price signal to conserve our water resources, at the same time generating revenue to preserve and enhance it.

“John Key’s lack of support for a water charge is baffling, given National’s supposed commitment to using price-based signals for resource allocation.

“Healthy rivers are essential for a healthy economy. Our clean and green brand underpins our tourism and agricultural exports.

“Cleaning up our rivers and lakes is a way to protect and enhance our 100% pure brand, and build clean green economy that works for everyone,” said Dr Norman.

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