Last month the government announced a new goal to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050. Its a bold ambition, and one worth supporting, but horrificly under-resourced. So the Greens have suggested a solution: a "taonga levy" on tourists to help pay for it:
The Green Party would nearly double the tax foreign tourists pay at the border to fund conservation efforts and regional tourism.
Its so-called "Taonga Levy" would increase current border charges for international visitors by between $14 to $18 to a total border levy of around $40.
The proposed tax, not applicable to Kiwis, would be split 70-30 toward the just-announced Predator Free New Zealand (PFNZ) effort and the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund.
Outlining the policy at the Environmental Defence Society's annual conference in Auckland today, party leader James Shaw said the new tax would generate about $46 million each year for PFNZ, or $1.5 billion by its zero-pest predator goal of 2050.
That's not enough to pay for the full programme, but its a substantial contribution, and one which will help fund the technological breakthroughs we need to achieve it. If the government is serious about making New Zealand predator-free, rather than just looking for cheap PR photos, they should adopt this proposal.