Luxon: the government must park the plans of the Three Waters

With an overwhelming majority of boards not on board, the government’s agenda is in dire straits and its four-entity model is floundering quickly, Botany MP Christopher Luxon said. Photo Carterton District Council

Labor must listen to the multitude of mayors pleading for Three Waters’ plans to be scrapped, National local government spokesman Christopher Luxon said.

“With an overwhelming majority of boards not on board, the government’s agenda is in dire straits and its four-entity model is quickly collapsing.

“Only a handful of mayors have explicitly supported the reforms, while the remaining 60 disagree. Many are in fact asking the government to put the process on hold because they did not have enough time to digest the details or consult their communities.

“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 recess.

“Northern Entity A has all but collapsed, with Far North and Whangārei already gone and the two remaining councils, Auckland and Kaipara, in strong opposition and likely to leave later.

“Meanwhile, the mayors of Hawke’s Bay are against reforms and other advice from B and C entities in areas like Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatū is slowing down.

“It’s no surprise that mayors are chastising the government’s dismal consultation delay and its apparent need for speed.

“National has always said that the supposed benefits and cost savings have not been adequately explained to the public.

“We oppose the reforms of the three waters. The touted benefits of scale are unrealistic, taxpayers would end up subsidizing neighboring areas and entities would deprive communities of electricity and steal control of their water assets.

“The government must heed the mayors’ appeals and at the bare minimum, suspend the program immediately.

“I would encourage them to go further and completely abandon the Three Waters plan. We need to keep the “local” in local government.

ACT chief David Seymour said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta displayed “astonishing arrogance towards the councils” during a question-and-answer session this morning on the politics of three government waters.

“A lot of boards don’t want anything to do with Three Waters. Whangārei, for example, has shown that the government’s cost-benefit analysis for its Three Waters policy exaggerates the benefits five times, ”says Seymour.

“The minister couldn’t explain why her plan would be five times better, simply insisting that the government’s work was ‘peer reviewed’. She forgot to say that Whangārei’s analysis was a peer review by international economics consultancy Castalia.

“When asked if the government was just going to legislate on opposing advice, the minister dodged the question. It is clear that the government intends to intimidate councils when its unsuccessful attempts at persuasion fail.

“If the councils don’t adhere to the government’s agenda, they don’t receive taxpayer subsidies through central government. In fact, the governance model proposed by the government is so complicated and remote from the citizen that councils prefer to withhold taxpayer money rather than be part of it.

“ACT’s solution recognizes the challenge some, but not all, boards face in managing Three Waters. It allows municipalities to form their own voluntary water cooperatives with neighbors if they wish.

“ACT’s solution uses 30-year plans with the central government for each municipality and region. These partnerships, along with public-private partnerships to attract investment capital, would allow boards to achieve higher standards for Three Waters, without using questionable modeling to impose a heavy governance structure on reluctant boards.


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