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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Muriel Newman: Suggested Three Waters Letter to Councils


Following is a suggested letter that can be copied and modified for sending to councils expressing concern about the Government's Three Waters proposal and calling for proper community consultation.

Don’t forget that more details about the Three Waters Campaign can be found here: nzcpr.com/3waters

And council email addresses can be found HERE.

Dear XXX

I am writing with respect to the Government’s Three Waters proposal. As I am sure you would agree, it is perhaps the most significant decision affecting ratepayers since the amalgamation of councils in 1989.

The Local Government Act requires councils to consult with their communities over any plans to transfer water services, and a strategic asset like water requires the highest level of consultation.

I therefore respectfully request that a full consultation process be undertaken by the Council to not only ensure ratepayers are properly informed about the consequences of central Government taking essential council-owned water services without compensation, but are also able to have a say on whether to accept or reject the Government’s proposal.

While the Government has made the claim that the assets will remain in Council ownership, this is simply not true. Once the assets have been passed to new water entities, control will be passed over to an unelected board, and lost to local ratepayers for ever.

The proposed Three Water Authorities will be huge bureaucracies, and while the Government talks about economies of scale, experience shows almost without exception, that the bigger the bureaucracy the greater the inefficiency.

The proposed Governing body is to be a “partnership” between iwi and councils. Half of the positions on the decision-making board will be appointed by iwi and the other half by all of the councils in the region. The result is smaller councils will have virtually no say at all.   

Since decisions of these governing authorities will require a 75 percent majority, in effect, that means the total control of water will be passed to unelected and unaccountable private iwi corporations.

Why are iwi being given the power to control our water? That has not been explained by central Government, yet it is a core part of these reforms.

I would respectfully suggest that you should refuse to join the Three Waters scheme until you have received clarification on the role of iwi.

The infantile advertising campaign being run by central Government that denigrates the reputation of local council water management, and the instructions by the Government for councils not to consult with their communities over Three Waters, indicates the politicians are walking all over councils and treating them like fools.

Again, with respect, our council needs to stand up for ratepayers to protect the assets that we ratepayers have paid for over many years.

At the very least, a referendum should be held so ratepayers are fully involved in the decision about the assets that their families have paid for.

Yours faithfully…

Muriel Newman is a former MP who runs the New Zealand Centre for Political Research public policy think tank HERE and this Breaking Views blog.

2 comments:

Jigsaw said...

Our council failed to listed to the the majority of ratepayers who stated clearly that they didn't want Maori wards or indeed any form of racial separation and yet council still went ahead. No doubt we will put as much pressure as we can to council against the Three Waters programme but its more than likely that government will either ignore them of simply ride roughshod over any opposition. Without a strong and independent media we seem destined to drift down this increasingly divisive and dangerous pathway.
We need some sort of political circuit-breaker right now.

Unknown said...

3 waters is simply another strategy from the Local Government Minister to give Maori more control over everyday life of the majority of New Zealanders. the removal of ratepayers right to require a referendum on Maori wards was simply the start. if we ignore this attack on democracy there will be plenty more to come.