The government has given up on persuasion and is forcing its Three Waters reforms on us:
National understands the Government will force the Three Waters asset grab on councils and centralise local, ratepayer-owned water services, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.
“The Government will introduce a bill mandating their model, which would require every council to join one of the four proposed mega water entities and hand over control of their Three Waters assets.
“This move is tantamount to state-sanctioned theft of assets that ratepayers have paid for decades to own.
“Labour’s four-entity model is fundamentally broken.
“It will create needless bureaucracy, strip away local control, and put distance between communities and decision-makers. Water services will be controlled by a complex smorgasbord of unelected appointees and officials.
“Ratepayer-owned water assets will be bundled into these mega entities with virtually no accountability. The governance structure will be messy and confused.
“By forcing the Three Waters plans on councils, Labour would be expressly ignoring every mayor who pleaded for a pause, and the over 55,000 people who signed National’s petition calling for the plans to be dumped.
“National has feared this outcome for months.
“First, the Government tried a $4 million scare campaign of inaccurate cartoon ads, followed by a $2.5 billion slush fund to buy council support.
“Then Minister Mahuta took to Parliament to patronise councils, insult their intelligence, and preach the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach forcing every council to surrender their water assets.
“Today’s announcement shows that all of the Minister’s earlier comments about ‘partnership’ were hollow, and her reassurances that councils could continue to opt-out were completely false.
“At a time when we need enduring, collaborative relationships between councils and the Crown, Labour’s legacy will be eroding trust and goodwill, and setting central and local government relations back by years, if not decades.
“National opposes the Three Waters asset grab. If Labour rams its plan through, we have committed to repealing the entity model when we form the next government in 2023 and returning seized water assets to councils.
“We’ll continue to fight Labour’s centralisation and control agenda. It’s vital we keep the ‘local’ in local government.”
Federated Farmers has serious concerns:
Rural residents concerned about the future of their water, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure should gear up to have their say, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.
“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities.
“We remain opposed to this plan. The government’s announcement today that this will be mandatory is a huge call,” Andrew said.
Local Government Minister Nania Mahuta has said a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts will be set up to work through design of how the new entities will operate.
“This group will have its work cut out to allay a multitude of concerns,” Andrew said.
“Top of the list for Federated Farmers are issues around governance and accountability. The complexity of rural water scheme ownership and operations has got rural people worried.
“How will the new entities ensure the needs of smaller and rural communities are not crowded out when setting investment priorities and plans?
“The proposed arms-length governance arrangements with directors appointed by panel, which are in turn appointed by yet another panel, weaken the accountability of water service entities to communities,” Andrew said.
There are also serious questions around the robustness of the government’s estimates of savings and benefits from moving to the new arrangements.
“The select committee process, and the public consultation that Minister Mahuta has promised, needs to be rigorous.
“Federated Farmers has already said this is cart before the horse stuff. We’re also in the middle of resource management reform and examination of the future of local government. The government has yet to convincingly demonstrate adequate planning and thought has gone into how the water services reforms integrate with these two very significant processes.” . .
Don Brash says a government that imposes this is a dictatorship:
A Government that ignores reasoned opposition from local government by imposing 50/50 iwi-council co-governance through its Three Waters Plan is yet another step closer to a dictatorship.
Three Waters is the Government’s plan to establish four publicly-owned entities to take responsibility for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater from local councils.
Today, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that the Government will force its Three Waters reforms on local councils after it was first pitched as voluntary .
Imposing a plan to give tribal representatives equal say with 67 councils over New Zealand water is outrageous.
Embedding 50/50 co-governance between councils and iwi who claim to represent 17 percent of the population is a major step towards creating a society in which everyone has to check their ancestry to work out their political rights.
Today’s imposition of the Three Waters Plan is a big step towards implementing the He Puapua Plan, which involves two governments under tribal control, one for Maori by Maori and the other a fully bicultural version of what we already have.
The forced introduction of Three Waters initially followed the prescription outlined in the He Puapua plan, which involved consultation with iwi groups first, then propaganda to soften up everyone else.
The frightening aspect of today’s imposition is that when councils expressed concern about asset confiscation and substandard representation, the Ardern Government went ahead and imposed it anyway.
This is an outrageous decision, and will cost the Government votes at the next election.
Councils are understandably angry :
Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen has today expressed extreme disappointment with the Government’s decision to mandate its Three Waters reform.
Mayor Nigel Bowen said that today’s announcement is a sad shift away from the principles of local ownership and accountability.
New Zealand’s social wellbeing should be underpinned by high-quality drinking water and reliable and safe wastewater and stormwater systems.
“We and our predecessor councils have invested strongly in our local water services over the past century on behalf of residents and we’re proud of our record,” he said.
“Timaru District has some of the best drinking water in the country, wastewater is properly treated and discharged, and stormwater systems are resilient.
“We remain committed to continual investment in our services to ensure that residents have the services they need and industry has the water it requires to grow.
“While we support the overall aim of the reform, we don’t think that the Government’s chosen model will deliver these aims.
Few if any would argue against the aim of a sustainable way to ensure we all have clean water but there’s almost universal opposition to the government’s method of achieving that.
“We also support the right of our communities to hold us accountable – in fact, we think it’s crucial.
“When a pipe bursts in someone’s street or a stormwater drain is blocked, our residents know who to call. And if we don’t fix the problem then our residents also know who to blame.
“Our biggest issue with the reform is that it confiscates the accountability that all residents should be able to demand from their local authorities.
“After listening to the overwhelming response from our communities who don’t want local control taken away, we cannot in good faith support this model.
“However, we know that to make change, we have to have a seat at the table. In that regard, we are pleased to see the Government acknowledge the fundamental flaws with its reform, and intend to work with them to see if our concerns can be remedied.
“With the establishment of the working group, we hope that the Department of Internal Affairs forms an honest and open working relationship with Local Government rather than the opaque and seemingly predetermined exercise we’ve seen so far.”
“For the good of our community we have the expectation that the promised changes will be meaningful and deliver real local representation for people, rather than just be another PR exercise dictated by Wellington.
“Ownership in name only is a disservice to our residents and we hope genuine changes can be made to the reform for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”
Marlborough District Council is similarly unimpressed:
“My reaction is one of great disappointment at the Government’s decision to make the Three Waters reform mandatory, as announced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta this morning.”
“The Minister has stated the status quo is not sustainable and the case for reform is compelling. If this is the position why has there been no meaningful public engagement in the roll out of the reform proposals?”
“We provided the Government with constructive feedback on the reform proposal during the eight week period to 30 September 2021, as did other councils around the country.”
“In just three weeks the Government has analysed the feedback from 67 councils, leading many to the conclusion that the decision to mandate it had been predetermined.”
“The mandatory ‘all in’ approach to this reform will be a bitter pill to swallow for many in our community, judging by the feedback I have received over the past two months.”
“The Department of Internal Affairs has also confirmed that the boundary for Entity C and Entity D will be the Ngāi Tahu takiwā boundary but that water assets in South Marlborough will be ‘managed’ by Entity C. What is the logic in this?”
“We have been offered a few crumbs to address the widespread concern over the loss of local democratic influence and control, but it seems most of the decision has been largely taken away from our communities. In my view, this is a step too far.”
“However, the fight to exert a greater level of local control is not over – there will be two public submission and select committee processes over the next two years as the Water Services Entities Bill and Water Services Entities (Implementation) Bills progress through Parliament. There is a long way to go on this yet.”
The government says this will save money?
How can it when it’s establishing a new and expensive bureaucracy?
And how will they pay for it?
They won’t be able to do it by rates as councils do. The only way they can do it is by metering.
Metering is user-pays and I’m not opposed to that in principle.
I am opposed to it being done by a body over which the public has no control and I am opposed to it being done in a way that means people in areas where councils have kept up their repairs, maintenance and replacement of water infrastructure will be subsidising those whose councils haven’t.
This is a gift to Groundswell which is planning the Mother of All Protests :
Groundswell NZ’s ‘Mother of all Protests’ will go ahead next month even if there are still Covid-19 restrictions in some parts of the country.
Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said after the Covid-19 announcement from Jacinda Ardern on Friday, the group met online and decided to go ahead with the nationwide protest against some Government regulations, which the group says are unworkable for farmers.
“We’re going ahead. We’ve had an overwhelming response from our co-ordinators up and down the country. All we ask is that people stick to the rules, and stick to their own vehicles.’’
“If everyone does what they’re meant to do, there should be no problems,’’ he said.
The group wants freshwater improvement to be managed by catchment groups, and rules about significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ to be re-written or abolished. . .
Support for Groundswell’s Howl of a Protest was far greater than expected.
Support for next month’s protest had been lukewarm but the government’s decision to force councils to give up their assets and replace local control with a bloated and undemocratic bureaucracy will fire up a wide cross section of people and give them the opportunity to show just how strongly they feel about this abuse of power.
One of the messages they will be sending is this:
You can sign the petition against the proposal here and donate to the campaign to fight the plans here.