I’d planned to mention a whole lot of little issues this month. Then the Green Party released its plan to levy a 10 cent per litre charge on companies who bottle and export drinking water.
I can see why the idea appeals – a lot of us rankle when thinking of firms making profits from water they don’t pay for.
However, this is sure to be a more complex issue than first appears, and even more so, the Party’s intimation that it wants all commercial users of water charged a fee. While this may be applauded by some, there needs to be a lot more analysis of how such a move would impact on NZ.
I recently received some figures from Federated Farmers and while I cannot verify these, if taken on face value, then wider water charges could be economically disastrous for Kiwis.
Federated Farmers spokesperson Chris Allen says he understand why Kiwis hate seeing our water bottled and sent offshore. “But charging for every litre used would not make this problem go away,” he says. “In fact, it is likely to put cost burdens on our people, taxpayers and communities which are simply unsustainable.”
Federated Farmers has crunched some numbers based on water consent applications and their findings conclude:
- About 60% of water consumed in NZ is used for electricity generation. Adding just 1 cent a litre charge to the water used by the Manapouri power station alone would require passing on a cost of $160 billion to New Zealand electricity users (that’s 65% of the total value of our economy).
- About 9% of consented water takes are for ‘industrial’ use. This would add $24 billion in costs at 1 cent per litre of water used.
- People connected to domestic drinking water supplies would pay an extra $18 billion, including commercial users working with domestic water supplies.
- The price of fruit and vegetables grown for the domestic market would increase meaning that domestically grown produce would be unable to compete with imports.
- The price of milk and meat would go up and make our exports less competitive.
If these estimates are accurate, and the forecasts plausible, Kiwis could, in the long run, pay more for everything. To me, this emphasises the need to closely examine all political party policies. Too often we hear one side of an issue and say, ‘that sounds like a good thing’ only to later hear an opposing view and realise the first idea might not be as sensible as it first seemed.
We ‘journos’ can sometimes be guilty of quoting figures which may come from reputable sources but which we haven’t been able to check, either because of time restraints or bureaucratic red tape. So, with an election looming and fresh policy being released from our various political parties, I am reminded that we should, perhaps, listen to everyone and believe nothing unless we know the full story.
And, that’s all on this issue but before I depart, I must congratulate Sam Gray from Pak’n Save Pukekohe who placed second (Auckland south) in the Checker of the Year in Foodstuffs North Island’s annual competition.
Rural Living team members shop regularly at Pak’n Save Pukekohe and we can confirm operators there are fantastic. So, congratulations, Sam.