“ACT will be campaigning to return stolen property to councils, reversing Three Waters reforms and restoring democracy to New Zealand”, says ACT's Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.
“If Labour steals it, ACT will give it back.
“It doesn't occur to Nanaia Mahuta that if people don't like her plan, maybe they're trying to tell her something, like it's a stupid plan that doesn't stack up and won't work.
“Because Mahuta is totally unable to take on board feedback, or understand how implausible her plan's benefits are, she is now forcibly taking council assets.
“The Government’s hapless attempts at persuasion have failed.
“It gave councils just six weeks to respond to its Three Waters proposal and failed to consider how much time would be needed to consult with communities.
“It then ran a taxpayer-funded ad campaign against local government showing sewage coming out of shower heads.
“Finally, it tried to bribe councils with subsidies, but the proposed governance model is so complicated and remote from ratepayers, councils would rather refuse taxpayer money than be part of it.
“Now it's just stealing council assets.
“The Government produced a report from the Scottish Water Authority which claimed costs to ratepayers would be up to five times higher under future council ownership. International economics consultancy Castalia showed that this claim was unsupported by evidence.
“The Scottish model applies to a completely different population density, geography and infrastructure needs.
“The four proposed water service companies would all be based in major cities with board members appointed by council and iwi representatives. There’s no guarantee water users in rural or provincial communities will be represented.
“ACT has proposed an alternative Water Infrastructure Plan. We have received detailed feedback from Mayors, many of whom support all or some aspects of the plan.
- Provide for councils to enter into voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control;
- Establish 30-year central government-local government partnership agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions;
- Establish public-private partnerships (through our proposed Nation-Building Agency) to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds, ACC and iwi investment funds;
- Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers supplying fewer than 30 endpoint users.
“There is a case for reform in the way waters assets are managed and funded, but the Government’s proposal misses the mark.
“Shifting water assets from one government body to another is a recipe for more bureaucracy and less local input, not an enduring solution to upgrade water infrastructure in New Zealand.
“Labour’s proposals will harm small private schemes by imposing costly regulation on rural water schemes, holiday home communities, common bore sharing, marae and others.
“We can improve the current system, but we don’t need to do so through state-mandated centralisation.
“ACT’s plan will better balance community control of water assets alongside a plan for levelling up the necessary infrastructure to ensure safety and efficient water allocation.”