Tuesday, October 18, 2022

John MacDonald: I'm listening to Wayne Brown's Three Waters noise

I never thought I’d say this, but good on Wayne Brown.

The new Auckland mayor has told his council and Auckland’s water company to stop doing any more work on the Government's Three Waters reforms and I think other councils should do the same.

They should all do what Auckland is doing and tell the Government they’re not going to waste anymore time, effort and money on Three Waters.

Wayne Brown is saying that he doesn’t think the reforms will happen, and so why would he want more ratepayer money going into it. He thinks the reforms are “doomed”, and for a couple of reasons:

The reforms haven’t been passed by Parliament and, after the results of the recent local body elections - which are, generally, being portrayed as a shift away from the left - he doesn’t see anything happening with Three Waters before next year’s general election.

So he's written to the head of the council’s water agency, Watercare, telling them to stop all work on Three Waters. He wants any staff at Council headquarters who have been working on Three Waters to be told to stop as well.

As he put it in a statement last night, he went to 300 events during his election campaign and he didn’t see or hear any support for Three Waters - and he promised to stop it happening, and this is first move.

I think it’s a brilliant move. And I think other councils should all do the same.

I was looking at a statement the Christchurch City Council put out last year after the Government announced that despite all the opposition from local councils, it was going to press-on with the reforms anyway.

And I couldn’t help thinking when I was looking at the council statement again that it had a real victim feel to it. “The Government told us lies. We feel betrayed.”'

Which is why I think Wayne Brown’s move is exactly the right thing to do.

Because the Government knows it can’t make the Three Waters reforms a reality on its own and it needs the councils to do a lot of its donkey work. And that’s exactly what’s been happening. Council staff up and down the country beavering away.

But in Auckland, Mayor Wayne Brown has called time on it and has said no more.

He’s also said that any money saved by not having staff diverted from their normal jobs and doing all the Three Waters stuff should be passed on to ratepayers.

I asked Phil Mauger on his first day as Christchurch mayor how he was going to make sure Christchurch was front-and-centre in the Government’s thinking when it was obvious that Wayne Brown was going to be telling the Government a thing or two and pushing Auckland’s case big time.

Remember one of Brown’s first and only comments to media after he won the election was that he was going to make sure the Government understood that his council didn’t want things forced on it, and that he’d be making sure the Government didn’t get in the way of what his council wanted to do.

Wellington’s job is to listen and not impose ideological schemes like Three Waters on a city that doesn’t want them. That’s what Wayne Brown said.

And when I asked Phil Mauger about that, he indicated that he was going to be a bit more diplomatic. But I think that would be a major mistake - which is why I think he needs to do what Wayne Brown did yesterday and pull the plug on council staff doing anymore work for the Government on the Three Waters reforms.

Because, as far as I’m concerned, councils can bang on about Three Waters but, as long as they continue to have staff doing the work that needs to be done to make the reforms a reality, they will be guilty of selling their souls.

Wayne Brown’s move is very clever. It’s a noisy move - as we’ve come to expect from Wayne Brown. But, on this occasion, I think the noise is a good thing.

Because if you don’t want Three Waters to happen, why on earth would you continue pouring council staff and time - not to mention ratepayer money - into helping the Government make it a reality? That is just nuts.

John MacDonald is the Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch. This article was first published HERE


EP said...

Absolutely. Good for Wayne Brown. He has courage and I hope enough to embolden all the other Mayors!

Robert Arthur said...

Hopefully he will also school the Council to reject the AUP Plan Change 78 and set the Council to do a more moderately revised version of the 2016 AUP. He should certainly insist on delay until the railways are operative again. It is unfortunate he is not 30 years younger. The Nats could use, esp with his expereince up north dealing with artful maori.

Anonymous said...

Wayne brown thanks for listening to the people. It's like an adult has finally come to the table. The labour party with all their rivers of filth and misinformation need to go.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a champion for the hapless ratepayer! If only other Mayors had the intestinal fortitude to follow suit.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm - not great signs from the new mayor of Wellington though. Seems she might be happy to re-employ hundreds of Auckland bureaucrats who might find themselves out of a job. Green Party politicking perhaps, they just don't seem to get it. Could be fun to follow over the next 3 years.

Anonymous said...

three cheers for Wayne Brown-- you have the mandate of the people of Auckland-- despite the dirty leftist media campaign against you. If you are an employee or contractor to the Auckland council, you work for the ratepayers not the labour party or the green party. The rates are paid for infrastructure development & maintenance not for social justice projects.