Drop co-governance of Three Waters

Thu, 10 Mar, 2022

“Nanaia Mahuta should stop listening to Labour’s powerful Māori Caucus and start listening to ratepayers when it comes to co-governance of Three Waters”, says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“Mahuta must realise that when even former Labour Party leader Phil Goff has said the Government shouldn’t be giving control of council assets to iwi, she’s lost the room and needs to drop co-governance of Three Waters.

“Today in Parliament I asked Mahuta whether co-governance would stop sewage overflows into rivers and onto beaches or deliver better water infrastructure in our towns and cities. Of course, she couldn’t tell me it would.

“Co-governance won’t mean people like South Auckland woman Jing Zhang, who has been unable to move into her new home for over two years due to water connection issues, will be able to get their water connected.

“The Government can’t even convince a former Labour Party leader that co-governance is a good idea. Phil Goff said: ‘Democratic accountability, through elected representatives, to people who funded the water infrastructure in Auckland valued at many billions of dollars and who continue to pay for its operation is critical. It is not appropriate to cede control over this infrastructure to other councils and mana whenua and to remove existing accountability to Aucklanders through elected representatives.’

“The focus must be on ensuring New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and high-quality infrastructure for storm and wastewater.

“The current system is not up to scratch, but the Government’s Three Waters reforms are not the answer. Taking water assets away from councils is wrong. Moving water assets from one government body to another is a recipe for more bureaucracy and less local input.

“ACT’s alternative Water Infrastructure Plan would allow community control of water assets and improve the necessary infrastructure to ensure safety and efficient water allocation."

ACT would:

• Return water assets to councils.
• Allow councils to enter into voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control.
• Establish 30-year central-local government agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions.
• Share GST revenue with councils to fund infrastructure upgrades.
• Establish public-private partnerships to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds and ACC.
• Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers supplying fewer than 30 endpoint users.