Winston Peters says he won't support a water tax

Winston Peters has announced he won't support a water tax.

The New Zealand First leader told more than 100 farmers in Ashburton on Wednesday that a water tax policy "won't work".

Labour intends introducing a water tax, which some farmers fiercely oppose.

It also has a policy to bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme, meaning farmers would have to pay for pollution.

Mr Peters said NZ First wouldn't support that either.

He told the Federated Farmers meeting, in Ashburton, that a water tax of two cents a litre - Labour is thinking about one or two cents a litre - would cost the average irrigated farm in Canterbury $29,000 a year.

"The stakes are high because $60 billion is tied up in agricultural debt," he said.

"The provinces and the regions which are after all the life blood of this country, you burn down the provinces this country is finished."

It seems Mr Peters is sending the same message to both parties on his water tax stance, although National has said it won't bring in any new taxes if it wins the election.

"Both parties are getting the same message, we think you are the devil in the deep blue sea with this policy and we are opposing both of you on this matter," he said.

"Labour and National envisage the same sort of cost structure against rural regional New Zealand when it comes to water."

Mr Peters said his party's survival depended on it keeping its word after the election.

"We've been around 24 years and we'll be around another 24 by keeping our word."

Reassuring farmers he's on their side, Mr Peters won't sacrifice them just to get into power although it took him a while to say it. 

Meanwhile, Mr Peters did state that he would like to see exported bottled water taxed.

"We were the ones that announced that any water bottled offshore should attract a royalty, and go to the region whence the water came to help pay for the infrastructure of the region," he said.

Peters did raise eyebrows though with this comment, "I've not said we won't charge you a fair price for the management of it, just like reticulation of water."

Irrigation NZ spokeswoman Nicky Hyslop said "That is something we will look for some more clarity around because that is somewhat of a concern."

Labour says its lost count of the number of bottom lines Winston Peters has, and told Newshub it's looking forward to negotiations after the election

National, unsurprising, said it welcomes Mr Peters' position on the water tax. 

NZN /Newshub.