Government’s “Double Whammy” to Public over Pollution

Government’s “Double Whammy” to Public over Pollution

A national trout fishing advocacy organisation has condemned the National Government’s budget announcement of money to remedy polluted rivers as “double dipping” into the public purse. In the recent 2016 budget, $100M was allocated for the Freshwater Improvement Fund.

But NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) President David Haynes of Nelson said this was tantamount to the taxpaying public having to front up on multiple occasions to bail out polluters who were not held responsible. “The $100M is on top of other tax funded clean-up ideas such as the 2011 Fresh Start for Freshwater Fund of $265M and the 2014 commitment of $100M to retire farmland adjacent to rivers.”

The bitter irony of these succession of payments is that such funds were a direct result of the $900M tax payer funded subsidies for irrigation for intensive farming operations” such as corporate dairying in low rainfall regions. “So the poor old tax payer pays twice – once to help create pollution and then again to try to clean it up. This is a cynical use of public money to subsidise uneconomic land use, and unsustainable agricultural practices.”

Mr Haynes said the NZFFA wanted a clear “polluter-pays” principle and an end to the “externalising the costs” of polluting on to the tax payer.

“Continuing to publicly fund irrigation, such as the recent $7.5M subsidy for Central Plains Water Schemes, and then asking both the taxpaying and ratepaying public to pay again to fix the pollution such intensification schemes produce doesn’t just fail to address the cause, it subsidises and encourages it. “It is like asking the starving to pay for a fat cat’s lunch” said David Haynes.