'Pure cowardice' - TOP hits out at National's water policy

Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons has criticised National’s water policy as "cowardly" and says it "blatantly ignores Te Tiriti o Waitangi". 

Geoff Simmons Source: TOP/YouTube

National today released its plan to implement a long-term strategy for water storage, to tackle the ongoing crisis that sees severe drought and restrictions in parts of the country.  

Instead, the party is pledging to create a "model that allows us to unlock our economic potential and safeguard our communities from increasing drought by supporting local government to develop three waters infrastructure, including clean water infrastructure and storage".

The party steered clear of placing a price on bottled water or touching Māori water rights, instead saying, "National believes that water belongs to everyone, but is owned by no-one". 

Simmons accused National of being "not willing to have the hard discussion around the ownership and management of our valuable fresh water".

"This ‘nobody owns water’ position is pure cowardice," Simmons said. 

"This will see a continuation of the current appalling situation which allows foreign water bottlers to take billions of litres of water from Aotearoa for free and sell it on for a huge profit, without consulting iwi Māori or even asking them to take a seat at the table.

"It’s disgusting, to be quite frank."

Last year, the tax working group recommended a tax on water extraction, however it said the issue of Māori rights for water needed to be addressed first.

At the time, Sir Michael Cullen said it was "not as difficult of an issue" as many thought, adding there needed to be someone "brave enough" to work on the issue.

Labour too has avoided the issue. 

On September 9, when Labour announced its tax policy of a 39 per cent tax rate on income earned over $180,000, the party's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson ruled out any other new taxes, should it be re-elected. 

When asked if that included putting a price on water bottling, Robertson said, "that's not in our tax policy so you won't be seeing that here".