Irrigation New Zealand

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14th September 2017

Confused members of nonprofit body Irrigation New Zealand are contacting IrrigationNZ asking if a water tax IS going ahead, following Labour’s announcement on tax plans today.

While Labour’s tax statement is being called ‘no new taxes this term’ , the water tax is in fact one of five new taxes that will go ahead if Labour wins the next election.

IrrigationNZ is calling on Labour to reconsider their plans.  CEO Andrew Curtis said: ‘Labour’s announcement on its tax plans today does nothing to address widespread concerns on a water tax.  It seems Labour are still pressing ahead with the tax although their re-issued tax policy is unclear and confusing. There’s still no further detail, no decision on the rate, and no analysis of the impact of this tax on farmers, growers, the public and New Zealand’s economy.’

‘IrrigationNZ has been asking 16 questions about the water tax since it was announced, under the banner Labour: Let’s Answer This. Today’s announcement provided no more information.’

The  proposed water tax deserves more scrutiny and analysis before being introduced. Voters deserve to understand the details and implications of this tax before the election.’

IrrigationNZ does not support a water tax as its proposed because:

  • It does not apply to all commercial users of water. It targets certain groups like irrigators which skews the funding and distribution of the tax, meaning it will fail to address some of the country’s most polluted rivers
  • It does nothing to address urban water pollution issues
  • It is likely to result in unintended consequences, such as more intensive farming to pay for it
  • It penalises the people who are already cleaning up rivers

More information on IrrigationNZ’s concerns about Labour’s water tax as proposed can be found here.

Andrew Curtis said; ‘We all want cleaner rivers, including farmers and growers, whose livelihoods depend on it. But Labour’s water tax simply won’t work. We have spent many years working with our members, farmers and growers who use irrigation all over New Zealand, and a centrally collected tax to pay unemployed young people to plant some trees is not the answer.’

We see the solution to cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers as:

  • Allowing time for the huge changes made in the past few years (fencing off waterways, riparian planting and meeting new environmental rules) to have an effect on our rivers
  • Supporting local communities to work together to clean up their river catchment – we have seen this work time and again
  • Enforcing rules that limit the amount of pollution that ends up in our rivers and educating farmers on how to manage within those limits
  • Acknowledging urban water problems alongside rural ones and work together as a nation to tackle it, not target one small group.

Andrew Curtis said: ‘The actions being taken now will result in improvements to our rivers in the future. Spending money on tax administrators, legal arguments over who owns water, iwi settlements, and most recently as stated by Labour MPs – on roads – will not improve our rivers and is wasteful.’


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