Labour’s water policy – Clean rivers for future generations

Written By: - Date published: 11:23 am, August 9th, 2017 - 76 comments
Categories: Conservation, election 2017, Environment, jacinda ardern, labour, Politics, water - Tags:

From the Labour Website:

“Labour will lead a nationwide effort to restore our rivers and lakes to a clean, swimmable state, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Clean water is the birth-right of all of us. I want future generations to be able to swim in the local river, just like I did. All our children deserve to inherit swimmable lakes and rivers – and they can, if we commit ourselves as a country to cleaning up our water.

“We can do this. We can restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable standard. If we choose it, and if we all work together. It will mean using our water more carefully, and being smarter about how we manage our pollution.

“Labour will help with the task of protecting our waterways from agricultural pollution. Our Ready for Work programme will employ young people off the dole and give them work improving the environment – including fencing waterways, riparian planting, and other work to improve water quality.

“A royalty on the commercial consumption of water will assist with the cost of keeping our water clean. The royalty will be flexible to reflect the scarcity or abundance of water in different regions, the different quality of water, and its use. Royalty levels will be set following consultation and the revenue will largely be returned to regional councils.

“To help set the royalty, in my first hundred days, I’ll host a roundtable on water at Parliament, with all affected sectors. I will not set a rate until I have met with those who will be affected; this is an issue that we must tackle together.

“Labour believes when water is exported for profit, private companies should also pay a royalty.

“Labour will work with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims in a manner that respects iwi’s mana, and restores the mauri of our rivers and lakes.

“Our river and lakes are a taonga of huge significance to Māori, a favourite place of recreation for New Zealanders. It’s time to restore them for future generations. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.”

Update:  Here is the ready for work policy factsheet.

76 comments on “Labour’s water policy – Clean rivers for future generations”

  1. Ad 1

    TVNZ comment well on it:

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/labour-pledges-introduce-royalty-commercial-water-use-and-farmers-not-exempt

    NZHerald livestreamed it.

    And it’s a tax. From Labour.

    Jacinda Ardern could probably eat a puppy right now and the media would hand her the tomato sauce.

  2. Nice to see Labour adopting Green policy… together we can do this!

    • red-blooded 2.1

      Labour had a clean rivers policy last time, too, You_Fool. It’s great that Labour and the Greens share policy concerns, but we don’t have to squabble of “ownership” of various issues and ideas.

      And yes, I very much hope that together, we can do this!

    • esoteric pineapples 2.2

      Yes, but it sounds better coming from Jacinda (to misquote The Brady Bunch movie)

    • Enough is Enough 2.3

      It is hilarious. This is how it works

      The Green Party policy machine spits out truly progressive policy on Issue X.

      Two election cycles later, Labour introduces something which the media portrays as bold new policy, which mirrors the Green policy on Issue X above.

      About a decade later National wakes up and quietly accepts science/evidence etc and at that point the initial green Green policy is universally accepted.

      Rinse and repeat for just about every issue.

      It would be a lot easier if we just skipped straight to accepting the policy as a society on day 1, and cut out the bullshit from Labour and National

      • Ad 2.3.1

        The water policy is closer to New Zealand First’s than to the Greens.

        As for policy theft, in reality, that’s what the small parties are for: generating previously unacceptable ideas for the main parties to pluck.

        • red-blooded 2.3.1.1

          Looking at announcements from 2011, fresh water was quite a big focus for Labour then, too. Here’s a statement from a grup called the Freshwater Geographies Workshop: “National’s 2011 policy statement reinforces this image of an economic resource: “Water is our most plentiful natural resource. It gives us a competitive advantage over our trading partners, particularly in our primary and tourism industries.” Labour and the Green Party provide vision statements for freshwater that emphasise the need to protect water quality for drinking, recreational, spiritual and biological reasons.”
          http://freshwater.science.org.nz/pdf/Open_letter_on_freshwater.pdf

          I don’t have time to look further back, but there’s been a focus on water quality in Labour policy for many years.

  3. Bill 3

    Our Ready for Work programme will employ young people off the dole and give them work improving the environment – including fencing waterways, riparian planting, and other work to improve water quality.

    That’s not “work for the dole”…right? Okay. Not quite.

    Thatcher’s first government had a similar scheme called “Youth Opportunities Programme” where young unemployed were put in work for six months and paid more than the dole.

    I couldn’t say if it was minimum wage (can’t remember), but fuck – is this the best we can expect?

    And didn’t Winston Peters propose unemployed people were set to cutting scrub a few years back? And wasn’t he hammered for the suggestion?

    • Karen 3.1

      It is voluntary, Bill. Nobody will be forced to do it.

      • weka 3.1.1

        do you have a reference for that Karen?

        • Karen 3.1.1.1

          Haven’t got time to search for it at the moment as have to go back to work, but Andrew Little made that very clear when the work ready policy was announced originally and when he was asked about it later.

          • weka 3.1.1.1.1

            ta, I’ll see if I can find it.

            • weka 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Can’t find the overall water policy just a half dozen paragraphs on their website, so it fees like a bit of a wild goose chase tbh.

        • red-blooded 3.1.1.2

          “Under Labour’s Ready for Work policy, all young people who have been on the Jobseeker’s Allowance in the Work Ready category for six months WILL BE OFFERED full-time employment for six months on environmental and community projects.

          Ready for Work jobs will pay AT LEAST the minimum wage. Mentors employed by WINZ will assist in their training and work preparedness. This job experience will allow young people to make a valuable contribution to their community and earn an income, as well as fostering a work ethic and making them more attractive to employers.”

          (Sorry for the capitals, my computer isn’t giving me any other choices for highlighting.)

          http://www.labour.org.nz/factsheet_ready_for_work

          This policy’s been out for a long time – it’s just now being explicitly tied to the rivers policy.

          • Bill 3.1.1.2.1

            You’re aware of how loaded the term “offered” is when we’re referring to WINZ red-blooded, yes?

            Turn down the “offer” and sanctions probably start landing thick and fast – just like at the moment if WINZ find a job “offer” that fits your capabilities.

            • red-blooded 3.1.1.2.1.1

              That depends on who’s giving the instructions to the WINZ staff, Bill. Schemes can be set up in a punitive way, but they don’t have to be. New hands on the tiller an change the course of the craft.

              • Bill

                Yeah. Sure.

                I was a kid when the YOPs I mentioned in my original comment was rolled out. It also paid above dole levels. It was also touted as providing experience and “hope”.

                And now as then, my response to all these pieces of bullshit can be summed up in two words. One of those words is “off”.

              • weka

                When Labour start talking positively about beneficiaries, including removing sanctions, then it will be appropriate to trust them. History doesn’t look favourably on Labour. I hope they do the right thing on this, but it’s understandable for people to be nervous in the absence of clarity from Labour.

                Karen above has said it wouldn’t be compulsory, I will see if I can find a source on that.

                • red-blooded

                  I’d have thought “will be offered” makes it clear that they won’t be required or compelled.

                  • weka

                    ‘offered’ is also MSD speak that is entirely compatible with sanctions. This is why Labour need to be explicit. You can’t do social security policy without reference to the last 30 years and expect to be trusted, esp when the same party was part of the problem a lot of the time.

                  • Bill

                    Last time I “was offered” a job though WINZ (1990s) I could have turned it down.

                    The flip side was a loss of entitlements.

                    You do know that one of the requirements for being in receipt of WINZ payments is that you’re actively seeking and willing to engage in paid employment, yes?

                    So unless that requirement is going to be dumped, compulsion comes with the package.

                    • ankerawshark

                      Ok Bill. So what do you want Labour to do? Not offer the scheme at all? That would be a shame wouldn’t it, cause it will help the environment and some young people may well want the work and the extra cash.

                      I had one of the old PEP jobs in the 80’s and if I hadn’t of been offered that, I wouldn’t be running my own business now…….

                    • Bill

                      Correct.

                      Proper jobs with fully empowered workers.

                      Policy wise, that’s a commitment to providing full employment, a comprehensive over-haul of the ERA and abandoning employer subsidies.

                      The Greens already support a complete review of the ERA and neutralising WFF by extending it to those not in work.

                      Any more questions?

                  • I’d have thought “will be offered” makes it clear that they won’t be required or compelled.

                    I was offered something like that a few years ago. When I said ‘no’, despite it being voluntary and I was already on one of their bloody courses anyway, I got kicked off the UB.

                    So, yeah, WINZ’ definition of ‘voluntary’ is most definitely different from everyone else’s.

            • Sabine 3.1.1.2.1.2

              so true.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.2.2

            (Sorry for the capitals, my computer isn’t giving me any other choices for highlighting.)

            It’s not that you’re computer isn’t giving them to you but that you have to learn some basic HTML: Spruce up comments.

    • weka 3.2

      It was pretty standard in NZ in the 80s when the govt didn’t know what to do with the rapidly increasing number of unemployed. Some of it was make work stuff, some of it was useful. I know people that went and worked with DOC in the bush and loved it. I once worked in a team that literally dug holes in the ground and then filled them in later (admittedly this was a failure of management rather than being intentional, but the irony wasn’t lost on us doing the digging).

      I don’t have a problem with the idea of the government creating jobs to do work that needs doing, nor of using those jobs to train people, but I don’t trust Labour or current government departments to do this in a way that’s good. A big alarm bell is that they want to administer this through WINZ, a department that is in such a mess that many people believe it can’t be fixed. Plus the whole culture of bene bashing can easily shift to ‘lazy youth need motivation’ even where Labour know how to coach that in positive framing.

      So getting young people out learning skills and planting out rivers would be great, but I’d like to see how Labour would do that because the last 30 years show us that such schemes have been haphazard at best.

      • red-blooded 3.2.1

        It’s true that there have been some haphazard approaches in the past. Hopefully, we can learn from these. The fact that a real wage is being offered rather than “work for the dole” seems to me a big step forward from past schemes. Plus, it seems that they’re not talking about current WINZ staff operating the scheme (although I guess “mentors employed by WINZ” might be current staff, it seems more likely to me that there’d be new people for these new roles).

        This is aimed at young people who haven’t been in education, employment or training for at least 6 months. That seems like a reasonable target group to me, likely to get some benefit out of this programme (and an actual wage).

    • Tamati Tautuhi 3.3

      NZF tried to get policy through Parliament getting young people into work and training however it was voted down by the Greens and National.

    • Bill this idea is tried and true – say the unemployed will do it when really there is no chance in hell that any more than a handful will. The policy looks good, appeases the ‘get off your butt’ crowd and if anything actually gets done that will be good.l

      • Bill 3.4.1

        I agree that all things being equal, no more than a handful of unemployed people would take is up.

        But we’re talking of WINZ and a culture permeated with notions of compulsion and sanction.

        • marty mars 3.4.1.1

          Yeah maybe the unemployed will get into it after they have finished their possuming and pest control.

          Personally I’d invite them to build gardens, plant food, cook and distribute and so on. doing something is better than doing nothing isn’t it – the Christian idle hands approach?

          • weka 3.4.1.1.1

            It certainly has potential and I can see some communities making good use of the scheme. Hard to see past the past though.

            • marty mars 3.4.1.1.1.1

              I spose i worry that this is appeasement not a real solution – i say that because of the use of the unemployed – happy to wait and see how this pans out and be proved wrong.

              • weka

                I think concern it warranted and am also ok to see how it plays out, but they get only one chance at this.

          • Bill 3.4.1.1.2

            Giving people skills and knowledge in a way or in an environment that fosters or encourages a sense of well being or that offers a semblance of meaning to life is all good.

            But then there’s “breaking in the horses”

            And I think it’s fair to say that all government “job” programmes focus on merely normalising specific and culturally delineated work habits as a precursor for entry into an environment of wage slavery, and at root, that environment is antithetical to both individual and wider social well beings.

            I’ll put it another way.

            I know people who’d willingly and enthusiastically do the likes of the things you list and gain a huge variety of personal benefits in the process. But I also know many who’d potentially harbour deep seated resentment – depending on the broader context or nature of the regimes that those activities took place within or under.

            Hmm…I could be projecting 😉

          • adam 3.4.1.1.3

            If it’s self directed marty mars, I’m all for it.

            But, it it comes from the top down, ‘you must” approach then what the point, it will just fail again.

    • adam 3.5

      Be careful Bill, all the attack dogs from the labour party will take what you say about policy as a personal attack.

      As for work scams/work program’s, these have failed over and over. How about self directed work, no wait, that’s tooooo anti-authoritarian and freedom loving.

    • Molly 3.6

      Bit wary of such schemes. Firstly, they should be offered a living wage – rather than a minimum one. Secondly, the “offer” should be made to farming students and environmental management students.

      Both would get to see the amount of effort, resources and money that are necessary to mitigate unsustainable farming practices and unenforceable environmental management plans.

      Win, win. Students get to reduce their loans, and they have a real-world view of how their choices in their chosen careers are paid for by the commons.

      For those who are unemployed – get rid of the bullshit requirements, and current sanctions and raise those entitlements to lift NZers out of poverty. Make their required appointments – reduced to a necessary level, not a punitive one – a place where community gathers and opportunities for engagement are living.

      Any work for dole scheme in the current climate is likely to fail because of the mindset that requires people who are in dire straits, to do something just to show people who are not that they deserve a minimum of help to keep their dignity.

      We should be ashamed.

      At a time when many home owners have received unearned capital gains just from owning property at the right time, we are still demanding overt obsequiousness of those who have the least.

      Ask not what we can do for the poor and vulnerable, ask what the poor and vulnerable can do for you!

  4. francesca 4

    Fencing off waterways and planting will help the phosphate problem, won’t make a blind bit of difference to the nitrate problem. Only reducing stock numbers (& giving a lot more thought to diversifying agriculture) will go any way to reducing the nitrate run off

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Carbon/methane tax being applied to agriculture may help.

      • weka 4.1.1

        Apparently Labour ruled out financial assistance for farmers to transition to more sustainable ag. That’s the kind of thing that needs to happen and it’s an odd omission from Labour because it’s pro-farmer.

        • Marcus Morris 4.1.1.1

          Agreed Weka. As far back as Aubrey Begg, through to Colin Moyle, Sutton et al Labour Prime Ministers have appointed some outstanding Ministers of Agriculture. And many farmers have grudgingly admitted so.

      • Poission 4.1.2

        Nope that would be very unhelpful as soil nitrates decrease atmospheric ch4.

        ( SNOx–NOx–O3 –OH)

      • JC 4.1.3

        “Labour, however, is taking up the call from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment New Zealand for new climate change laws based on those in the UK, which put greenhouse gas emissions targets into law and set “carbon budgets” to cap emissions. Labour has also promised to bring an end to the “free pass” given to agriculture by bringing it into the emissions trading scheme.”

        https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/08/08/41727/a-stark-contrast-emerges-on-climate-policy

  5. RedLogix 5

    Excellent policy from Labour. The intent, content and timing are brilliant; after the past week this is a nice clean, positive circuit-breaker.

    And while I’m quite sure Labour would have had this policy in the oven for a while now, it’s even better to see that it lines up with both Green and TOP policy.

    http://www.top.org.nz/top9

    This is exactly the kind of cross-party alignment we need right now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see National come out with something pretty close as well. Whatever the outcome of the election, this big issue is firmly on the table.

    And it will inevitably get the associated ToW issue into the limelight as well.

  6. Ian 6

    sorry to burst your bubble guys but this sounds very anti farmer Looks very discriminatory to me.Giving half the loot to iwi sounds like a rort as well.
    What about other industries that use water and what about power generators and of course domestic users.
    Don’t expect farmers to take this lying down.If you want to poke the bear with a stick be prepared for the consequences.

    • Nick 6.1

      Ian, its anti pollution, pro environment, not anti farmer…..and no half the loot to Iwi isn’t happening either (has it ever ?).

    • Ad 6.2

      Electricity companies will be thanking their lucky stars that they are not caught in this proposed tax net yet.

      But always good to hear from other industries wanting to be taxed more.

      Here’s two quotes for you.

      “It is only fair that some of the profits from the taking of water are returned to communities to help restore degraded water quality.”
      – Media release, today, Water NZ Chief Executive John Pfahlert
      That’s the peak irrigation body

      “Commercial water use discussion useful and necessary.”
      – Media release, today, Dairy NZ
      That’s the peak dairy body for New Zealand

      Farmers have been taking water free or minimal cost, and taking far too long to clean up their act, so it’s high time that stopped “lying down” and stood up.

      Everyone in the city pays for their water use, so it’s about damn time all farmers did as well. And if they can’t survive on the kind of tariff proposed, very simply they are too marginal and should get out.

    • greg 6.3

      the last labour government gave farmers to 2013 to clean there act up and pay for green house gas emissions so they have had more than enough time.

  7. eco maori 7

    High schools and local government and central governments should get it together and build portable houses at the high school so every one that leaves high school get a trade like some countries in Europe . We have to provide a better futer for our youth and all education should be free as the people in there 60s had after all they are our future

    • Ian 7.1

      Are any of you folk familiar with the profitability of farming ? This proposed envy tax will make most farming businesses insolvent.
      As for having the unemployed down on the farm fencing and planting trees,you got to be dreamin’

      • greg 7.1.1

        farming in nz is a real estate play farmers make there money on capital gain a pensioner pays more tax than a farmer and why should farmers get a free rid to plunder the public commons

  8. mauī 8

    Loving this new Green Party with their new leader!

    • weka 8.1

      Lol. It’s a good thing that the Greens have so much influence over policy direction in NZ 😉

      • Ad 8.1.1

        Any time the Greens want to start their campaign would be great.
        6 weeks to go.

      • mauī 8.1.2

        Must get a bit annoying having other parties coming in and putting down similar policy though.

        • weka 8.1.2.1

          I find it annoying, and then I step back and understand that they really do have such an influence on policy in NZ without even being in govt. The Greens didn’t do this on their own obviously, the wider green movement in NZ has shifted the culture on water to the point that laws will get written. That’s huge, and having Green MPs in parliament is a critical part of it. Māori are also significant players in this, which is why I’d be good with the Mp in govt on the left. They’re the only party saying river and lake water should be drinkable.

  9. eco maori 9

    Labour should not be to hard on farmers as it is not there fault national dropped the ball on our water quality and allso what about the public waste treatment plants failing to cope with heavy rain all the time .
    And nobody is addressing the real problem which is the urea that they pour on the land it is not just cow shit and piss that is the problem its the urea 100 percent nitrogen.
    washing into our water ways if it was not for our high rain fall leaching the urea out of the land it would be stuffed using to much urea is ruining our soils it is the laze mans way of farming not many farmers get the big picture on efficient dairy farming .
    make sure every time a paddock is grazed its has 2500 cover when the grass slow down bring in supplements slow the round down so the cover is about 2500 so cows are harvesting the most grass get it wrong by 3 day and grass is wasted some farmers just pour more urea on it has a direct effect on production you can have 2 paddocks .
    the same cover 2500 one has had urea in the last round and one that has not the paddock with urea will produce more milk than the paddock with out it
    that is why i say its a laze mans wat to farm you still have to maintain nitrogen levels
    but the farmers could half there urea inputs an still maintain production leaver close to what they were doing with better monertring of the farm systems

    • Ad 9.1

      Use a spell check and some paragraphs. This isn’t primary school.

      • francesca 9.1.1

        bit unfriendly

      • Foreign waka 9.1.2

        Ad – Read it slowly and give it some thought…. I think the comment was actually quite interesting, especially pointing to urea – I had to look this up and it is ghastly stuff:
        In aquatic organisms the most common form of nitrogen waste is ammonia, whereas land-dwelling organisms convert the toxic ammonia to either urea or uric acid. Urea is found in the urine of mammals and amphibians, as well as some fish.

        100% of it basically makes the land uninhabitable. If this would be any other private property it would be condemned by the council and you only can visit with a HAZCHEM overall.
        eco maori uses the term “laze mans” which I would interpret as “lazy men’s” to rightly name those who use all means of “increasing the return”.
        NZ will loose its preferred supplier status of beef in the wider customer base because of the overuse of land and water – I fear it wont be that much longer to go. There are plenty of other farmers who can achieve the same result at a cheaper rate and able to use an environmentally friendly reduced “carbon footprint” as their advertisement. The preference could well be other suppliers not raising cattle in shit and urine.
        So from that point of view, I am not fussed about the writing but I am thankful that I have learned something from the contribution.

  10. Michael 10

    A good policy that is in danger of being rejected because of National Party propaganda. I think Labour needs to distinguish between royalties on bottled water (by companies run by National Party hacks) and charges on commercial irrigators (farmers). IIUC the policy proposes separate charging regimes, with irrigation charges much lower than bottled water.

    • greg 10.1

      no water is part of the public commons its not there to be plundered by bottlers or nacts in gum boots

    • red-blooded 10.2

      And they’ve already said that no charging rates have been set yet, and that each sector will have input, with varied rates for different sectors. Sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.

  11. Eco maori 11

    Lol to ad I agree that water should be charged to everyone it will be used and treated like the life giving resource that it is but we can not charge to much or the farmers will go broke and we should treat farmers with respect as anyone else in our country they work hard and deserve to be acknowledged for that

  12. greg 12

    nz is already over stocked farmers created there own debt mess as have home owning bubble investors if they go broke well thats just to bad!

    • Pretty much. Many of us have been telling anybody who’d listen that the present farming/housing bubbles couldn’t go on forever and that they must come back to earth at some point. Looks like some point is in the not too distant future.

  13. mosa 13

    The farmers are screaming and over exaggerating about Labour’s water policy.

    That means it must be a good idea.

  14. millsy 14

    The farmers are 100% willing to foul our waterwater ways and contaminate water supplies to ensure that their profits are kept up. The sooner that they are open with the public about this position the better.

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