Councils reaffirm call for better water reforms
Members of Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori have reaffirmed their call for better water reforms, saying the Three Waters proposals need further changes to meet community concerns.
C4LD met with its member councils following the Government’s announcement of the changes to its Three Waters reform proposals. There was agreement that fundamentally there was little to no change to the core issues of the expropriation of community property rights and the loss of meaningful local voice.
The group will continue to campaign for their community-led, common sense water reform that delivers on all the Government’s stated objectives - including balance sheet separation.
Mayor Helen Worboys, Mayor of Manawatū and C4LD Co-Chair, said that while Minister McAnulty tried to change Three Waters for the better, he appeared to be constrained in what could be addressed.
“The Minister seems to have had very little latitude in what he was allowed to touch, and that’s a real shame as there was a great opportunity to seek a better model that would deliver better water services for New Zealanders,” they said.
“Indeed, in correspondence received by C4LD from the Minister, he acknowledged that balance sheet separation could be achievable under the C4LD model.”
Balance sheet separation is achievable for council owned entities under IFRS 10 rules, so long as no council has more than 50 percent of the shares of the company.
“What the government isn’t publicly recognising is the sheer complexity and expense of a third party trying to amalgamate thousands of individual water and waste schemes into these large centralised companies,” she said.
“The Government has already delayed the plan two years due to this, so there is still the opportunity to call time on this model, use what we’ve learned so far and work together on better Three Waters reform.
Claims that the new Three Waters model would allow councils greater say in the water entities was also questioned by members, who noted that as the present owners of the assets they had direct control and influence.
“Although the new Three Waters model may guarantee one seat for each council on the Regional Representative Group, it’s still a group with little to no real influence other than hiring the board. Communities will have no say, but still pay,” she said.
“These inconsistencies are of real concern to our members, they strike us as policymaking on the hoof as the Government tries to show a result for the $100 million they’ve sunk into the reform process so far.
“At the end of the day it’s still the same Three Waters policy. It’s the same top down, Wellington-led reform. It’s the same confiscation of community property and silencing of the community voice.
“However the Minister says he’s listening to councils, so as the Bill proceeds through Parliament, there is still an opportunity to get this right.”
Communities 4 Local Democracy has a plan for affordable and community-led reform, for more information on its plan, visit https://www.communities4localdemocracy.co.nz/ideas
Media Contact: Stephen Doran, Stephen.email@example.com, 027 202 7784