Minister won’t commit to Three Waters changes

Thu, 10 Feb, 2022

“The Local Government Minister has today confirmed what mayors and many New Zealanders feared, if the Three Waters Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability recommends that the governance structure should include more local representation, she probably won’t listen,” says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“In Parliament today I asked Nanaia Mahuta whether she would commit to changes if they were recommended. Grant Robertson said on her behalf that she will commit to listening to the recommendations but nothing beyond that.

“We’ve watched as communities and councils have roundly rejected the Three Waters reforms. There’s no way the Minister hasn’t heard this. You only have to drive around the country to see signs scattered around saying “Stop Three Waters.”

“Saying she’ll listen but go ahead with her agenda and not act on the concerns is just the status quo.

ACT’s Water Infrastructure Plan would:

  • Provide for councils to enter into voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control
  • Establish long term 30-year Central Government-Local Government Partnership agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions
  • Establish a Public-Private Partnerships (through our proposed Nation Building Agency) to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds, ACC, iwi investment funds, etc
  • Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers sup plying fewer than 30 endpoint users.

“Simply shifting water assets from one government body to another is a recipe for more bureaucracy and less local input, not an enduring solution to upgrade water infrastructure in New Zealand.

“ACT’s plan will better balance community control of water assets alongside a plan for levelling up the necessary infrastructure to ensure safety and efficient water allocation. 

“ACT has engaged constructively through the initial process established by the Government. We are unconvinced the Government’s centralised model will result in better outcomes for our communities.

“There’s no point in this working group if the Minister has already made it clear she won’t take on its recommendations.”

Our policy document can be found here.