Penny Bright will be pleased. Apparently in New Zealand no one owns water. We should stop paying our water rates bills immediately.
National has made the claim for a while. The latest invocation of the belief was made by John Key on his visit to China. From Stuff:
Key told reporters in Beijing that governments had operated under a “long-standing principle” that water did not belong to anybody, and could not be sold by the Crown.
“The point is that no-one owns water, and if we’re going to start charging for it, then arguably we’d have to be consistent and charge a lot of people.That means Meridian, when it gets its water and puts it through its hydro schemes, they would need to pay for that water, and Meridian aren’t going to pay the bill, so you the consumer are.”
Key said the access permits were only temporary, while only 0.004 per cent of all water used in New Zealand was bottled and sent overseas.
“It’s worth putting a bit of perspective on it…it’s a very tiny amount.”
Holy false equivalence. Apparently having water drive turbines on its way down a river or domestic water use is exactly the same as bottling it and selling it overseas. And it is fundamentally wrong for Iwi to have any rights to water even though water is a taonga that was protected under the Treaty of Waitangi but it is fine for corporates that donate large amounts of money to National to sell it at a profit.
And yes the amount may be only a small proportion of all water in the country but explain that to a Canterbury farmer next time they are suffering from the effects of the latest drought.
It seems that the Government’s enunciation of rights defaults to what is best for business and farmers. But given its preference for market driven solutions to all problems you wonder why the Government has not considered water pricing.
There is no mention of water pricing, although pricing is the standard way of dealing with such problems.
Pricing incentivises technical efficiency, and it enables trading so thatwater can ‘flow’ to where it is of most value.
It is not surprising that water pricing is controversial – paying for something which Nature provides freely seems wrong and unfair.
But it makes economic sense to price water in catchments where it is scarce (or likely to become so) and it is being used as an input to production.
Embarassingly for the Government it has been disclosed that Oravida has a contractual right to export hundreds of millions of dollars of fresh water at the annual price to the local authority of $500. John Key is relaxed about it but the optics are not good. Stone Shi and Julia Xu, directors of Oravida are members of Key’s current delegation to China. Judith Collins husband is also a director and the company regularly donates to the National Party. Of course there is nothing to see here and nothing to worry about.
If the issue starts to register in focus group land then no doubt it will be all Labour’s fault. And some obscure link between a relative of a Labour MP will be used to attack and divert.