Sunday, February 26, 2023

Point of Order: Mahuta heads overseas...

......(but have non-Maori been left out of her delegation?) while Luxon gushes about Nats’ Three Waters plans

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s latest travel plans have been posted on the Beehive website today, advising she is packing her bags to travel to Japan and Singapore tomorrow “to strengthen Aotearoa New Zealand’s connections with Indo-Pacific partners”.

But it seems she is strengthening the connections only for some New Zealanders.

The press statement says:

She will be accompanied by a Maori delegation which will strengthen Maori business and people-to-people links.

“I am looking to promote opportunities to further grow Māori commercial and cultural opportunities with Japanese partners.”

No mention is made of non-Maori business people accompanying the Minister.

Perhaps they have been included but the press statement has been crafted to pitch to Mahuta’s Maori supporters and voters.

The announcement was made a day after Rino Tirikatane, Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth, addressed the annual Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School.

Tirikatane said in his introductory remarks he wanted to talk about the Government’s Trade for All Agenda, our regional free trade agreements, and what is being done to support Indigenous trade.

He proceeded to explain how the Government is doing more to make sure its trade agreements ensure that Indigenous Peoples can participate effectively in key trade policy discussions and negotiations.

This includes giving effect to our commitments under Te Tiriti, and through the Government’s Trade for All Agenda, to ensure that Māori actively participate in issues that affect them.

It has allowed an open conversation around the future direction of Aotearoa’s trade policy. And significantly bought Māori into a partnership that is developing, growing and soon to be flourishing.

Mahuta’s press statement today gives the impression one consequence of this policy is to leave non-Maori out of business delegations – some delegations, anyway – when Ministers travel overseas to strengthen our international ties.

Explaining her latest overseas mission, Mahuta said Japan is our fourth-largest trading partner and an important source of investment.

She will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to discuss working together to ensure prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

They will also discuss how their governments and business are collaborating on the technologies which will be needed to build the sustainable economies of the future.

The Minister will meet with other senior Japanese political leaders, attend a roundtable on Maori business with the Japan-New Zealand Business Council, and connect with Pacific Ambassadors.

In Singapore, the Minister will attend the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Asia Honorary Advisers Meeting. This is the first in-person meeting of the Honorary Advisers network, which she chairs, since 2018.

Singapore is our fifth-largest trading partner and our largest in South East Asia. It is also a vital transport hub for New Zealand exporters.

“ Our bi-lateral relationship with Singapore became even stronger with last years refresh of the New Zealand-Singapore Enhanced Partnership which focussed on climate change cooperation and the transition to a green economy,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

In Singapore, the Minister will meet with Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen and Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister Adaljiza Magno, both of whom are Asia New Zealand Foundation Honorary Advisers. During her meeting with Minister Magno, she will sign the New Zealand – Timor-Leste Statement of Partnership.

Nanaia Mahuta returns to New Zealand on Friday 3 March.

Within minutes of our receiving news of Mahuta’s travel plans, National leader Christopher Luxon emailed us the news that

National will scrap Three Waters and deliver local water well

A National Government will scrap Labour’s undemocratic and unworkable Three Waters model and replace it with a sustainable system that ensures drinking water, stormwater and wastewater remain in local control, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

He thus intends undoing the Three Waters model that Mahuta had zealously promoted when she was Minister of Local Government. It gave expression to the same “partnership” principles which – apparently – are being injected into the country’s foreign policy and trade promotion work.

Luxon said:

“The sub-standard status quo where pipes are too often allowed to fail, creating pollution, wastage and massive bills for ratepayers, will not be allowed to continue under a National Government.

“But the answer is not Labour’s unpopular Three Waters scheme that the Government has pushed through Parliament. It will take assets off local communities, transferring them to four mega-entities that no-one asked for, no-one wants and that have mandatory co-governance.

“Instead, a National Government will set and enforce strict water quality standards and require councils to invest in the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their vital water infrastructure, while keeping control of the assets that their ratepayers have paid for.”

Luxon said National will:
  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the four co-governed mega-entities
  • Restore council ownership and control
  • Set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure
  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable
Councils would be required to demonstrate a clear plan to deliver ongoing investment in water infrastructure. Those plans would require the Minister of Local Government’s approval.

While water quality regulator Taumata Arowai would set strict standards for water quality, National would establish a Water Infrastructure Regulator within the Commerce Commission to set and enforce standards for long-term water infrastructure investment.

Councils would be required to ringfence money for water infrastructure and not spend it on other services instead.

Luxon said:

“National’s plan supports greater access for councils to long-term borrowing, which is an appropriate way to fund long-life water infrastructure. One way to improve access to borrowing would be for neighbouring councils to form Regional Council Controlled Organisations. Ultimately, it is up to the councils but we would envisage it is likely a number of regional groups will emerge to deliver better water services.”

Financial sustainability would enable the long-term investment in infrastructure that delivered the quality drinking water, cleaner rivers and swimmable beaches that New Zealanders wanted and expected, Luxon said.

Resilient, well-maintained, future-proofed modern infrastructure would also enable communities to better cope with mounting pressures due to climate change and accommodate the housing growth that was eing stymied by a lack of infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater services.

“Under National, water stays in local hands and investment in water infrastructure is secured so that New Zealanders can be sure their water is safe and affordable.”

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams welcomed the announcement, saying National’s alternative to Three Waters was “bang on what the Taxpayers’ Union and local councils have been calling for.

“It meets the Taxpayers’ Union’s red lines of respecting property rights, retaining community control, ensuring local accountability, giving councils the ability to opt into shared models of their choosing, and the efficient delivery of water services.”


“This policy is almost identical to the model developed by Communities 4 Local Democracy, which the Taxpayers’ Union has been promoting,” said Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

It would be supported by the Taxpayers’ Union, 31 provincial councils, the Mayors of our two largest cities,

It remained to convince Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


DeeM said...

Maybe Mahuta should be renamed Only Maori Foreign Affairs Minister. That's all she's interested in.
She, and her Maori caucus colleagues, typically show complete contempt for non-Maori every time they open their mouths.

Hipkins needs to make an example of blatantly racist policy if he expects the public to believe he's a new broom as PM.

Anonymous said...

For sure.Ths minster does exactly what she wants - no commitment to the country ( or taxpayer).
Call her out. Or, is she above the law?