Multi-council action to challenge Three Waters

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Ashburton District councillors have formalised the next steps in responding to government’s Three Waters reform proposals.

Councillors approved joining a multi-council campaign to convince the Government to alter its intention to proceed with legislation that will compel councils to transfer their Three Waters to the ownership and/or operational control of another entity without the agreement of an affected council.

Council has also committed $15,000 to participate in the campaign, mainly led by Waimakariri and Manawatu councils.

A third recommendation passed at last week’s meeting was that if reform should proceed council’s preference was for a Waka Kotahi (NZTA) type model whereby council continues to manage the assets with funding support from the Crown and with investment decided on in the merits of the various business cases.

The model is not part of government’s reform proposal.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown said council needed to show it was not happy with what had been mandated and needed to present a solution.

The Waka Kotahi model had been workshopped by councillors and most agreed it was the solution to what had been given so far.

A majority of councillors were in favour of the Waka Kotahi type model, but councillor Stuart Wilson was strongly opposed.

He said council needed to follow legal channels to oppose the reform proposals.

“It’s difficult enough trying to get money out of Waka Kotahi at the best of times.

“How do we propose getting money to service Three Waters – it’s just going to be impossible.”

Cr Wilson said trying to convince the Government to change its mind was a waste of time because they have made up their mind.

Crs Rodger Letham, Carolyn Cameron and Diane Rawlinson were also not convinced the Waka Kotahi model was the way to go.