By Leonard Poon

There probably are cogent arguments for the imposition of water use taxes/royalties. Unfortunately, your correspondent Darryl Hook fails to present these.
I quote:
"We . . . give away our water for most other countries to gain tax revenue". Wrong. Our water is not given away. It is bottled and sold. The profits from its sale are taxed, as are the wages of the workers bottling it. Additionally, those workers live and spent their pay locally.

Any of our export products which are sold by an overseas company at a profit will generate taxes on that profit which are part of the revenue of the foreign government concerned. Water is no different from wine, apples, infant formula etc in that regard.

"Those . . . who suggest the imposition of a tariff on bottled water would mean we would have to apply the same tax on users such as farmers . . . are totally flawed". No. The flawed reasoning is your correspondent's. The manufacture of a product does not exempt the maker from paying for the raw materials which contributed to it. If such an exemption was the case, bakers would not need to pay for their flour nor vehicle manufacturers for their steel.


Water (like air and sunlight) has been a notable exception to this. If water bottlers are charged for their raw material (water), it is in fact very reasonable that all other industries which use water as a raw material also should be charged.

Note that farmers and horticulturalists have not exactly lent enthusiastic support for such a charge. They know where it would lead.

So what is proposed is a discriminatory tax targeting water bottlers exclusively and exempting all other industrial users. Since the other "justifications" above for such a tax do not hold water (pun intended) and the water consents for bottlers make up a tiny proportion of the total consents anyway, this leads to the real reason behind such a move.

Consider the situation: overseas company identifies a gap in the market for sale of a resource (water) hitherto taken for granted by its users.

Some locals take umbrage because the company is foreign (read, Chinese) owned and appears to be making a profit for minimal effort, but mainly because they did not have the wit to think of the idea themselves first.

So they propose to penalise the company and others like it for their business acumen by adding a tax over and above what they pay already.

Envy, with a side dish of xenophobia thrown in.
That's more like it.

* Dr Leonard Poon is a Hastings doctor, who also works as an audiologist in private