National has launched a petition calling on government to pull the plug on its Three Waters proposal:
Labour must listen to the multitude of mayors pleading for the Three Waters plans to be dumped, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.
“With an overwhelming majority of councils not onboard, the Government’s programme is in dire straits and its four entity model is floundering fast.
“Only a handful of mayors have explicitly supported the reforms, while the remaining 60-odd are not on board. Many are in fact urging the Government to suspend the process because they have not had adequate time to digest the detail or consult their communities.
“The South Island entity D is in serious doubt, with mayors from across the West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland writing to the Minister and asking for a pause.
“The northern entity A has all but fallen apart, with Far North and Whangārei already gone and the remaining two councils, Auckland and Kaipara, in strong opposition and likely to leave next.
“Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay mayors are against the reforms and other councils throughout entities B and C in areas like the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatū are hitting the brakes.
“It’s no surprise mayors are rebuking the Government’s woeful consultation timeframe and apparent need for speed.
“National has consistently said that the supposed benefits and cost savings haven’t been adequately explained to the public.
“We oppose the Three Waters Reforms. The touted scale benefits are unrealistic, ratepayers would end up cross-subsidising neighbouring areas, and the entities would strip power from communities and steal control of their water assets.
“The Government must heed the mayors’ calls and at a bare minimum, pause the programme immediately.
“I would encourage them to go one step further and dump the Three Waters plan altogether. We must keep the ‘local’ in local government.”
Christchurch City Council has joined the majority opposed to the plan.
The Christchurch City Council has voted to inform the Government it strongly opposes the proposed entity-based model for water services. . .
Councillor Sam MacDonald said advice from staff shows how fundamentally flawed the model is.
“What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate,” he said. . .
Just think how much good those millions could have done had they been spent on improving water infrastructure instead.
National’s petition has attracted nearly 25,000 signatures in three days, Christopher Luxon says.
“Kiwis are making it clear they don’t support Labour’s centralisation and control agenda.
“The Government’s model of four water entities would strip control from communities and erode local democracy, putting ratepayer accountability at arm’s length.
“The significant and immediate response to our petition shows New Zealanders won’t accept the brazen theft of water assets they’ve paid for decades to own.
“We agree that every New Zealander deserves clean, safe water. But Labour’s deeply flawed entity model is not the way to get there.
“The Government looks set to ram through their plan at any cost – including making the reforms compulsory for councils, if that’s what it takes.
“National is calling on all Kiwis to sign and share our petition, demand the debate on Three Waters, and tell the Government they can’t force their asset grab on New Zealand.”
You can sign the petition here.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith gives his views on the proposals:
This is my journey with three waters so far.
Government decides that clean water is a priority for every New Zealander, that is a government decision.
Government starts by legislating a water regulator and makes it mandatory to enforce the standard that Govt has decided upon for the supply of drinking water.
It is basing its’ decisions on the Scottish water model.
This is where I saw the first crack appear.
The regulator must ensure that all users of water get the same treatment across New Zealand.
It’s again a one-size-fits-all for everybody that uses water, no matter if you are rain fed or aquifer fed. A big difference Coasters.
The question of what it will cost ratepayers has not been considered as a priority.
Can New Zealand afford a gold-plated water management regime?
Would a bronze or Silver Plate model have been a better first step.
The regulator has already indicated he has the power of enforcement, and he will use it. I wonder what that means? . .
Bruce Smith again:
. . . At the LGNZ conference a $2.5 billion incentive was announced by the Prime Minister to encourage councils to opt into the government three water proposals.
Westland District Council was to receive $11 million which we were advised could be used on any project and not confined to three waters. Its stated purpose was to ensure Councils were no worse off after their three waters functions and assets were removed by government.
Nothing was mentioned about strings attached by the Prime Minister in her speech.
On the second day of the conference, we were informed the money would become available in July of 2024.
It could be spent on projects consulted and approved by iwi and was not confined to three waters investment.
It was subject to councils joining the government masterplan for three waters reform.
This included the transfer of Councils three water assets to one of four companies to be established to control the allocation of water, the assets transferred by Councils, and the funding of the current and future three water supplies.
It was clarified that Maori would be granted membership and voting rights of 50% of the governance groups that controlled the three water activities and future strategic direction of each of the four entities.
The voting would be 50% Maori and 50% councils who had transferred 100% of the assets to the operating companies.
This government proposal gives Maori who makeup at June 2020 10.4% of the West Coast population and 16.7% of the New Zealand population according to statistics NZ.
Maori in commercial terms gets the right of Veto in perpetuity from government.
This is an unorthodox proposal where 100% of the population have paid for the existing assets and will be paying 100% of all future water costs.
Amongst the conversations it was observed how undemocratic this proposal was. It was noted that the proposal would create a real backlash in our communities. An unintended consequence or is it a further implementation of the HE PUAPUA report. . .