Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - OUT & ABOUT -

Na­tional can­di­date An­drew Fal­loon said his party had in­tro­duced a range of mea­sures to strengthen fresh­wa­ter man­age­ment but ul­ti­mately it was farm­ers who had to pay for those things.

‘‘It makes no sense to send them out of busi­ness, which a water tax could do. Labour’s water tax would ex­empt ma­jor water users in Auck­land while hit­ting ru­ral ar­eas hard. In­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis shows 40 per cent of their tax would come from Mid Can­ter­bury, with a high like­li­hood much of it will go else­where, to iwi, and to clean­ing up wa­ter­ways in Christchurch or fur­ther north.’’

Fal­loon said only his party had a cred­i­ble plan to clean lo­cal wa­ter­ways.

Labour’s Jo Lux­ton said her party needed to work with farm­ers to en­sure their long term prof­itabil­ity and that meant manag­ing water prop­erly and pro­tect­ing its qual­ity.

‘‘In this way we pro­tect the farm­ers so­cial li­cence to con­tinue farm­ing. The fact is, we can’t con­tinue the way we are, it is un­sus­tain­able.’’

She said Labour would in­tro­duce a water royalty on water bot­tlers and other large com­mer­cial water con­sumers, not in­clud­ing house­holds, coun­cils or hy­dro­dams. The money raised from the royalty would help with the clean­ing up of rivers and lakes, Lux­ton said.

ACT’s Tom Cor­bett said New Zealand should have a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy for the use of water through­out a com­mu­nity.

‘‘ACT does not sup­port any water tax as there is no ev­i­dence to link ir­ri­ga­tion and poor qual­ity rivers; in fact the re­verse is the case. The re­gions with the most ir­ri­ga­tion have the least poor qual­ity streams; in truth the rea­sons for poor water qual­ity are much more com­plex and sim­ply at­tack­ing ir­ri­ga­tion users will do noth­ing to ad­dress the causes.’’

Cor­bett said that if sci­en­tists were cor­rect, the east coast was dry­ing and ir­ri­ga­tion would mit­i­gate that ef­fect for the ben­e­fit of the econ­omy.

Green Party can­di­date Mojo Mathers said it was ap­palling that over half of the coun­try’s mon­i­tored rivers were un­safe for swim­ming, in­clud­ing many in South Can­ter­bury.

Mathers said the Green Party had cam­paigned for clean safe drink­ing water and healthy swimmable rivers for more than a decade and would set strong stan­dards for clean water.

They would also in­tro­duce a fair charge for ir­ri­gated water, us­ing the money raised to fund water clean-up ini­tia­tives.

‘‘Water bot­tling com­pa­nies profit from ex­port­ing our clean­est most pure drink­ing water while other com­mu­ni­ties are hav­ing to boil their water be­fore they drink it,’’ Mathers said.

The Greens would put an im­me­di­ate 10 cent per litre charge on water bot­tling and ex­ports, with that rev­enue also go­ing to­wards water clean up schemes.

TOP’s Olly Wil­son said Rangitata’s en­vi­ron­ment was its num­ber one as­set and needed to be pre­served.

‘‘Mid Can­ter­bury pro­duces ap­prox­i­mately eight per cent of New Zealand’s to­tal milk pro­duc­tion. The Can­ter­bury plains have seen a 490% in­crease in cow num­bers in the last 20 years, dou­bling milk pro­duc­tion in the last 10 years, which is stag­ger­ing.’’

He said in­creas­ing tax payer funded ir­ri­ga­tion was well proven to be dam­ag­ing to the re­gion’s water qual­ity ac­cord­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter’s own chief sci­ence ad­vi­sor.

‘‘We must ad­dress this is­sue now, not in 2040. TOP pro­poses a mora­to­rium on ir­ri­ga­tion schemes, com­mer­cial levy on all water use and a pol­luter pays ap­proach as ad­vised by the OECD.’’

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