Three waters fight continues

SHARE

Feedback from the government’s three waters working group is ‘‘predictably disappointing” says the group representing 1.5 million New Zealanders and almost half of New Zealand’s territorial local authorities.

Communities 4 Local Democracy is the local government action group campaigning for better reform for three waters and is made up of 24 partner councils from around the
country, including Ashburton District Council.

“The Government well and truly stymied the working group members with the terms of reference making any chance of real change impossible,” Communities 4 Local Democracy chair Helen Worboys said.

‘‘There was widespread hope that working party feedback might result in real change to the policy, and our group even commissioned and presented alternative models that we
believed meet government and community objectives. Even the small
movement on the ownership side falls short of what is needed,” she said.

The Working Group recommended the sole right that goes with ownership is the right to vote on some future speculative privatisation.

“All other ownership rights are stripped from councils and the communities that they democratically represent. Whichever way you cut it this proposal remains, at its heart,
simply a confiscation of community assets without compensation, everything else is window-dressing. This is simply not acceptable,” Mrs Worboys said.

Communities 4 Local Democracy has presented two alternative models; council owned with stronger regulation, and a new council owned enterprise (COE) model.

The action group believes both models meet all of government’s bottom line objectives – ranging from meaningful partnerships with mana whenua to appropriate balance sheet
separation.

“It’s now widely accepted that the Government’s ‘one size fits none’ model won’t deliver the lasting, long-term change needed in the three waters sector, it is only guaranteed to last as long until the next change in government. This is not a recipe for delivering a stable   investment climate,” Mrs Worboys said.

“Our models are common-sense and community oriented ways to cost effectively meet all the requirements for the Government, have broad cross party support and could be used by
local communities to develop services that work for their unique needs.’’