National understands the Government will force the Three Waters asset grab on councils and centralise local, ratepayer-owned water services, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.
“The Government will introduce a bill mandating their model, which would require every council to join one of the four proposed mega water entities and hand over control of their Three Waters assets.
“This move is tantamount to state-sanctioned theft of assets that ratepayers have paid for decades to own.
“Labour’s four-entity model is fundamentally broken.
“It will create needless bureaucracy, strip away local control, and put distance between communities and decision-makers. Water services will be controlled by a complex smorgasbord of unelected appointees and officials.
“Ratepayer-owned water assets will be bundled into these mega entities with virtually no accountability. The governance structure will be messy and confused.
“By forcing the Three Waters plans on councils, Labour would be expressly ignoring every mayor who pleaded for a pause, and the over 55,000 people who signed National’s petition calling for the plans to be dumped.
“National has feared this outcome for months.
“First, the Government tried a $4 million scare campaign of inaccurate cartoon ads, followed by a $2.5 billion slush fund to buy council support.
“Then Minister Mahuta took to Parliament to patronise councils, insult their intelligence, and preach the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach forcing every council to surrender their water assets.
“Today’s announcement shows that all of the Minister’s earlier comments about ‘partnership’ were hollow, and her reassurances that councils could continue to opt-out were completely false.
“At a time when we need enduring, collaborative relationships between councils and the Crown, Labour’s legacy will be eroding trust and goodwill, and setting central and local government relations back by years, if not decades.
“National opposes the Three Waters asset grab. If Labour rams its plan through, we have committed to repealing the entity model when we form the next government in 2023 and returning seized water assets to councils.
“We’ll continue to fight Labour’s centralisation and control agenda. It’s vital we keep the ‘local’ in local government.”
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