“Yesterday’s changes can be summed up as a new name, six costly new entities to set up, and another two years of expensive consultants working on a policy no one wants.

“However the Government’s rule of ‘affordable’ raises a number of questions. How much will six more entities cost? How many consultants bills will fill the extra two years the Government has given itself? How much will be spend trying to sell Three Waters 2.0 to the public? How much of the alleges savings will actually just be taxpayer subsidies?

“The Government has already spent large trying to sell Three Waters and they failed. Will they be putting similar amounts of taxpayer money into selling the rebrand? In 2021 they spent $3.5 million on an ad campaign that was deemed to be misleading propaganda and taken off air. Will they roll out a new taxpayer funded campaign since the last one was a waste of time and money?

“By December 2022 $94 milllion in taxpayer funding had been spent on Three Waters. What have taxpayers got to show for it? An admission that the policy wasn’t working and a hollow rebrand, at even more cost to taxpayers.

“Three Waters has been a consultant’s banquet. Over $50 million has been spent on contractors and consultants and some agencies have been getting paid an average $3,500 per day since the programme began in 2020. They’ll be jumping for joy to see the programme extended for another two years.

“The Government’s desperation to force through a policy that is ill-thought-out and crammed with divisive co-government has led to poor policy-making. Kiwis pay the price for this. Even the Government’s $1.5 billion bribe to councils has now been pulled off the table.

“Trying to sell this rebrand as ‘affordable’ to taxpayers is disingenuous. Kieran McAnulty uses ropey modelling to claim people will save on their rates bills, but any savings will be paid for by taxpayer funded subsidies. Whether Kiwis are getting fleeced by the Central Government or Local Government doesn’t actually make their bank account balance any better off.

“This rebrand means more costs for taxpayers and the same old problems as before. ACT has shown that these issues can be addressed in a better way. ACT’s Water Infrastructure Plan would:

  • Provide for councils to enter voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control
  • Establish long term 30-year Central Government-Local Government Partnership agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions
  • Establish Public-Private Partnerships to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds, ACC, iwi investment funds, etc.
  • Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers sup plying fewer than 30 endpoint users.

“We can improve the current system, but we don’t need to do so through state-mandated centralisation and allowing some people to have more influence than others based on their ethnicity.

“Whatever the name is, this policy needs to go.”

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