The Labour Party has promised to introduce a tax on the commercial use of water.
While farmers would not be excluded, they will be hit less hard than bottlers, leader Jacinda Ardern says.
Announcing the policy in Auckland today, Ms Ardern said it was not a revolutionary idea, but the same notion applied to other natural resources.
“The price will be different for premium acquifer water, often bottled for export, than for irrigation, for example,” she told the Environmental Defence Society conference.
“Gold and gravel often come from the same place but we’ve always charged a different royalty for gold than we have for gravel.”
The money from the royalty scheme would go to provincial councils, not the Crown, following the resolution of Treaty of Waitangi claims over the issue, she said.
Although the party has yet to come up with a rate or method for applying royalties to water, Ms Ardern told reporters it would be nowhere near the 10c-per-litre mark and would be decided in collaboration with affected parties.
“We’re focused on making sure water bottlers pay a fair royalty,” she said.
“We acknowledge a flow-on effect, but I will not set a royalty that will affect other parts of the industry until I have sat down with them and worked out a workable plan that ensures they remain profitable.”
Domestic users and power generators would be excluded under the policy.
Ms Ardern described claims the farming industry would be harmed as “scaremongering”.
“I want to work with the sector. I’m not interested in blame.”
Labour in June announced a 12-point freshwater policy, which included setting stronger national standards and curbing the intensive use of land for livestock.
Ms Ardern told the EDS conference Labour would restrict all high-intensity dairy farming next to unfenced rivers and lakes, giving farmers five years to put up fencing.
She denied Labour was muzzling in on the Green Party’s territory. The Greens welcomed Labour’s moves, calling them a “shared vision”.
Meanwhile, the Government this week announced it was putting $44 million into projects to clean up 100 rivers and lakes around the country, in the form of grants to councils.
That money comes from a $100m water clean-up fund announced last year. NZN