Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta needs to give certainty to the sector, instead of giving high-level keynote speeches that say nothing, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“Today was her third ‘keynote’ speech on the Three Waters Review. We keep hearing about her junket to Scotland, but the Minister is leaving the public and Councils waiting aimlessly for a decision.
“It’s getting embarrassing that the Minister doesn’t have any more details.
“There is already a sense of unease among Councils about who is going to pay for all of this. Will larger well-funded Councils end up carrying smaller Councils, and just how much cross-subsidisation is there going to be?
“Alongside these cost concerns lies uncertainty within timeframes and most importantly the impact on Council debt, given Councils will most likely lose control of their water services to some yet-to-be-determined water company.
“The Minister needs to be clear about exactly how ratepayers and Councils are expected to fund upgrades in an environment of such uncertainty. The last thing we want to see is Council set amongst Council.”
“Ratepayers are concerned that the cost and sheer size of the three waters upgrades will ultimately fall on them.
“Three waters services are lifeline utilities, critical to New Zealand’s economic security and prosperity, health, safety and environmental protection. That’s why National established the Three Waters Review to assess whether current local government practices and the system oversight are fit for purpose.
“With about $12.8 billion upgrades planned of three water infrastructure between now and 2025, The Minister now needs to get on with the job and deliver certainty.”