It is not often that I agree with Gareth Morgan, but he has a blog post about how farmers can pay for their own irrigation without bludging off the taxpayers or ratepayers.
Irrigation New Zealand and Federated Farmers are calling for public subsidies for irrigation projects. In their view, this year’s drought, and the prospect of more in the future given a changing climate, has underlined the need for increased water storage. In their view it is no different from building roads and other infrastructure, which benefits everyone. Do they have a point? Who should pay for water storage and irrigation in this country?
The short answer is yes and no. They do have a point, but only so long as water users and polluters paid for the costs of the water they access and the environmental damage they wreak. This consistency – which is purely the logic of the industry lobbyists extended – would yield enough money to improve water infrastructure. But no way should Average Joe and Jo Kiwi pay a cent for someone else’s pipes and dams – which seems where the lobbyists are bludging for handouts.
The Ruataniwha scheme is a classic case of bludging. The HBRC is promoting a scheme which all ratepayers will have to cough up for, it will poison a river, and provide water to just 200 farmers. At the same time they are prosecuting another council for pumping sewage into the same river they are happy to poison with their dam. Read more »