Community Scoop

Three Waters

Opinion – Andy Loader

Government pushes ahead with Three Waters reform, will take water services from councils. This was the headline reported by the Stuff website on 27th October 2021. The report said that the Government has decided to push ahead with Three Waters reforms …

Government pushes ahead with Three Waters reform, will take water services from councils.

This was the headline reported by the Stuff website on 27th October 2021.

The report said that the Government has decided to push ahead with Three Waters reforms and take control of water services and assets from local councils, despite considerable opposition.

The proposed reform of the country’s three water services – drinking, waste, and storm water – has caused outcry among political opponents and some local councils, which currently have ownership of billions in water assets, have loudly opposed proposed reforms.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta on Wednesday said the Government would legislate in early December to create four new water entities that would take on the water assets currently owned by councils.

The true fact of the matter is that this government is going to legislate to steal these assets from their rightful owners, “The Ratepayers who paid for them” and give a fifty percent share of these assets over to the control of Maori.

The report said, “However, the question of future control and governance of the entities and the water assets remained unclear”.

This is another lie from this government! The Three Waters Reform Project clearly states that the water entities created will be run by boards that will be appointed and that those boards will consist of 50% Maori and 50% others. It also states that the boards will need a 75% majority to pass any decisions in relation to changes. It also states that there is a requirement for the water entities proposed Boards of management to be adequately competent both as a Treaty partner, and with expertise in accessing matauranga Maori, tikanga Maori and Te Ao Maori knowledge to inform the water entities activities?

Mahuta said the Government would establish a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts to work on how the entities will be governed.

This statement by the Minister is again a lie as shown by the requirements set out for appointment to the boards of the water entities that have already been published.

Mahuta said the new water entities would remain in public ownership, and this was a “bottom line” for the Government.

This is another lie! It is a fact that if one has no rights in relation to a thing — e.g., no right to use it, to enjoy it, to gain a return from it, to dispose of it, to destroy it, to control it or to control its use — one does not own that thing and this proposal strips local authorities of all the rights of ownership which proves that this claim of ownership is blatantly untrue. It is no more than PR “spin” on a grand scale trying to protect the government’s image. Listing in the legislation alone does not constitute ownership.

She said the overhaul of water assets could create between 6000 to 9000 jobs, and boost the economy by $14 billion to $23b.

So the Minister has stated categorically that this reform will not cost the ratepayers and in fact will save them money on the future costs likely if the reform was not done.

Yet as stated above this reform is going to create 6000 to 9000 jobs and boost the economy by $14 Billion to $23B.

All of that cost will be paid by the users of the water, the ratepayers who already own the assets. They will be required to fund the extra jobs and the boost to the economy through their water bills but they will not face any extra increase in costs. “YEAH RIGHT”

This statement is equivalent to saying its all right we will borrow the money to cover the costs, you won’t have to pay for it. Where is this government’s connection to reality?

The example of the Westland Council shows that under the new system of control using the government’s figures, through the Three Waters model that costs for all three waters services will rise by approximately 37%.

The National Party has promised to repeal the Government’s water reforms, if the party is elected.

The party’s local government spokesman, Christopher Luxon, said the Government would “create needless bureaucracy, strip away local control, and put distance between communities and decision-makers”.

“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 … By forcing the Three Waters plans on councils, Labour would be expressly ignoring every mayor who pleaded for a pause.”

ACT Party local government spokesman Simon Court said his party would also repeal the Government’s water reforms, as assets were being forcibly taken due to Mahuta’s failure to persuade councils.

“If Labour steals it, ACT will give it back.

“It doesn’t occur to Nanaia Mahuta that if people don’t like her plan, maybe they’re trying to tell her something, like it’s a stupid plan that doesn’t stack up and won’t work.”

This statement from the Minister today, is the last straw that will break the back of democracy in New Zealand.

Government in a democracy is supposed to represent the will of the people not dictate what the people are going to get.

This decision in my opinion will, if there is any natural justice in this world, become the touchstone issue that will see this government rejected by the citizens of New Zealand and thrown from office never to return.

If this government is so certain of the benefits to be had by the ratepayers of New Zealand, from this “Three Waters Reform”, then they should put it out to a binding referendum to prove that it is what the citizens of New Zealand want.

If they do not do so, given that both major opposition parties have stated categorically that they will repeal any legislation pushed through under this reform, for them to force this through parliament by share weight of numbers will in my opinion be very close to malfeasance of office.

Yes they have the numbers in the house to pass this and can do so, but they know that the opposition will repeal it if they win at the next election, so they will be gambling on the fact that they are going to win the next election given that the implementation will not occur till 2024.

Anything other than a win will see this legislation consigned to the waste basket where it belongs and the expenses incurred on the three waters reforms between now and the next election should be the responsibility of those members of the current government who refuse to put this out to a binding referendum!

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