Another nail in the Three Waters coffin

The latest council rejection of the Three Waters Reforms underscores their persistent problems and throws the Government’s plans into serious doubt, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“Far North District Council is now the second local authority after Whangārei to walk away from the reforms.

“The wheels are falling off the Government’s plans big time – particularly for the northern water entity which has already been halved and now looks set to collapse.

“Mayors of the two remaining councils, Auckland and Kaipara, have both expressed reservations with the reform programme.

“Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith has called the Government’s modelling a farce and shared concerns around debt and governance.

“Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has been adamant for months that the city has major issues with the reforms including accountability to ratepayers and Aucklanders cross-subsidising their neighbours.

“If Auckland is the next council to opt-out, how can the northern entity survive and where does that leave the rest of the reform programme?

“It’s looking more likely by the day that Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s last resort will be making the reforms compulsory and forcing communities to surrender their water assets.

“Mandating the reforms would be a direct attack on council autonomy and local democracy. Change must be led locally – it can’t be dictated by the Beehive.

“The Government’s plans are beset by serious problems, including unclear scale benefits, cross-subsidisation risks and a convoluted governance model that will erode local accountability, influence and control.

“National will continue to oppose the reforms until these issues are addressed.

“Most importantly, we will keep defending the right for councils to make the decisions that are best for their communities. We can’t afford to lose the ‘local’ from local government.

“Communities deserve to be fully consulted with and to have their say.”