Govt to bribe councils to save botched Three Waters reforms

National understands that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be announcing a $2.5 billion taxpayer bribe later today in an attempt to save the flailing Three Waters reforms, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“First the Government tried to scare ratepayers by going behind councils’ backs with a taxpayer-funded propaganda ad campaign. As that didn’t work, the Government has now turned to old school bribery tactics.

“This entire sham exudes desperation from a Government which has refused to listen to the feedback coming from councils in favour of pushing their own agenda.

“National has been vocal in proposing central government investment in council infrastructure, however, our approach would be to tie this to requirements for councils to build housing.

“The Government has simply created a slush fund to buy compliance from local governments.

“What is abundantly clear is that Jacinda Ardern taxes and regulates when she wants control and then when she notices that stakeholders aren’t happy with her she recklessly throws taxpayer money around.

“These reforms are poorly-conceived and will result in low accountability, bloated service entities, more bureaucracy, and messy cross-subsidising between neighbouring regions. The claimed scale benefits and cost-savings remain unconvincing.

“Jacinda Ardern and her Government seem unwilling to learn that working with New Zealanders on significant issues like this would produce much better outcomes than simply ramming decisions through and trying to soothe discontent with cash injections.”