Thursday, October 7, 2021

Mike Yardley: Three Waters has devolved into a debacle

By any measure, the Government’s sweeping Three Waters reform agenda has devolved into a debacle. Its credibility is shot. The multi-million-dollar advertising blitz, which had you believe that sludge is pouring out of your taps, has come to symbolise the shonkiness of this reform programme.

The sales job has been a sensationalist, demeaning and grossly misleading. The financial assumptions that underpin the switch to four merged entities have been widely pilloried. Most councils insist the data and figures flawed, inflated and unreliable – with the touted benefits being grossly exaggerated.

There’s also the matter of Local Government New Zealand. They were stitched up by Wellington, and swallowed the bait, foolishly signing up to a head of agreement that tacitly supports an all-out takeover of council assets. LGNZ didn’t even bother to engage with their member councils, before signing up to this deal in July. They now face a crisis of confidence.

But back to the reform model. All of the council feedback is in. And at last count, only six of our 67 district and city councils have indicated any desire to opt in to the reform programme, or any support for these four mega-regional entities.

The Beehive hasn’t indicated any such willingness to pull in the reins, despite the towering wall of opposition they’re up against. Now I don’t if Nanaia Mahuta is aloof, arrogant or autocratic. Maybe she’s a mixture of all three – but her defence of this reform agenda in the House has been atrocious.

And she’s now shifting the blame onto councils for failing to secure public support for these mega-mergers. She is refusing to rule out the confiscation of council’s water assets and services, which I suspect is what she desires is done, before Christmas.

But that’s a hell of a tall order. And ultimately, this will be a Captains Call. How much political capital does the Prime Minister really want to fry on this ridiculously over-cooked model? They should rip it up and rework it, based on the feedback, to find a better vehicle to drive the reforms and the promised efficiency savings.

Mike Yardley is a writer and broadcaster - including with Newstalk ZB.


DeeM said...

"Now I don’t know if Nanaia Mahuta is aloof, arrogant or autocratic. Maybe she’s a mixture of all three..."

And in a nutshell Mike has summed up the problem Labour have with pretty much ALL their Maori caucus. Like all tribal elites, who expect their underlings to do exactly what they say when they say it, they cannot comprehend criticism and rejection.

Mahuta resorts to intimidation and abuse. She really isn't cut out for politics but she would have made a good prison officer.

Jacinda will have to decide whether to rein Nanaia in or fold...which is clearly what she's been doing in the face of the insistent separatist, pro-Maori initiatives that have been forced through over the past 8 months.

The pressure must be getting intense on the PM.
Covid out of control, the elimination strategy abandoned, Three Waters almost unilaterally rejected, the cycle bridge fiasco.
This government does seem to be heading for a major crisis of confidence...can I have a front row seat, please?

Terry Morrissey said...

With the current mood of the population the best bet for the Prime Minister would be to flush Three Waters down the gurgler with the harbour cycle bridge,100,000 homes, crime crackdown, child poverty, COVID elimination, first in the queue vaccination program, and all the other failures they have achieved so far. Closely followed by the Minister of Local Government. May I suggest she then do a bit of updating of her CV and touch base with the UNO. Who knows maybe Aunty Helen could arrange something “going forward”?

Janine said...

It now looks like the good citizens of Tauranga have at least managed to stall " Three Waters". Good on you my fellow New Zealanders you deserve a pat on the back. No thanks to anyone else really that I can think of.
The MSM have been abysmal as usual, not providing any useful information to the public.

It is now up to individuals to salvage our once great little country. I hope we are all up to the task.

The concept of democracy does not appear to be understood by journalists or politicians.

Anonymous said...

John Key sold his soul to the separatists when he had UNDRIP signed & pushed through the Marine & Coastal Area Act. He did what it took to get the support of the racist Maori Party securing his power. Jacinda Ardern has been enjoying her worldwide recognition and is even more pro-apartheid so I can see Mahuta getting her way to keep the separatists on board. Heaven help us.

R R B said...

Are NZrs a submissive bunch of wimps?
NZrs don't know how to push back when their rights and freedoms are threatened by local and central governments, the first thing they do is grab the white surrender flag and run it up the pole. NZrs have have lost the will to fight and are a disgrace to our ancestors who actually put their lives on the line for what they believe.
Write to your Councillors and MP's, tell them if they don't reverse the Labor Governments intention to thieve our water they better start looking for another job including every future election.
Don't sit on your butts and expect someone else to do it, numbers count!
p.s. And who the hell gave the right to the Local Government bureaucrats to sign away the rights of the NZ citizens?