“There was only ever going to be one winner in a battle over co-government between the Prime Minister and the Māori Caucus,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Chris Hipkins has given the impression that he’s running as far from co-government as he possibly can, but co-government won’t let him escape.

“Co-government remains part of Three Waters because the Prime Minister was either too scared to stare down the powerful Māori Caucus, or he did and he lost.

“This shows how powerful the Māori Caucus is and that Chris Hipkins has no control over them. If Hipkins had control over of them, he would have at least dropped the unpopular and divisive co-government element of Three Waters. Instead, Māori MPs are riding roughshod over him.

“If the Prime Minister is going to continue down the path of co-government, he needs to make his case for it, and it needs to be stronger than just that the Māori Caucus want it. The problem is, this is the only argument he has.

“Co-government also remains part of the Government’s Resource Management Act and the Māori Caucus isn’t going to let him get rid of that either.

“Hipkins has been desperate to differentiate himself from Jacinda Ardern but, by reheating and rebranding co-governance, he’s showing he’s no different.

“There are real problems with drinking water quality in some communities, failing wastewater networks and sewage overflows into rivers and onto beaches. None of these problems are solved by expropriating ratepayer assets or with co-government.

ACT released its Water Infrastructure Plan in August 2021. It would:

  • Repeal Three Waters legislation and return assets to councils
  • Provide for councils to enter voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale while retaining local ownership and control, if councils choose to
  • Share GST revenue with councils to deliver $1 billion every year to support local development-enabling infrastructure
  • 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.

“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.

“All New Zealanders are born equally and everyone should have equal rights.”

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