“Labour has confirmed in his own confused way that there is no legal basis for implementing co-government arrangements in water infrastructure,” says ACT’s Three Waters spokesperson Simon Court.
“I questioned Labour about Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty’s claim to Q+A that the co-government arrangement “complies with what previous court rulings have been”, his shaky claim is based on a case in which Bill English testified that “The recognition of rights and interests in freshwater and geothermal resources must, by definition, involve mechanisms that relate to the ongoing use of those resources, and may include decision-making roles in relation to care, protection, use, access and allocation, and/or charges or rentals for use”.
“Somehow this has apparently led the Minister to the conclusion that mana whenua should have half the seats on regional representation groups despite being 17 per cent of the population. By the Minister’s logic, will irrigators, farmers, manufacturers get representation?
“Labour can’t explain co-government because there is no logical reason for it. They’re undermining one-person-one-vote democracy and they can’t even explain why.
“Democracy isn’t some academic concept that can be tossed aside on a whim. It is the system of Government which New Zealand is built on.
“The management of three waters assets, developed over generations by all New Zealanders through democratic institutions is more akin to the election of a Parliament, which is one person one vote. It is not like the Governance of specific property where there is a 1840 claim.
“The defence that somehow having mana whenua representatives in Three Waters Governance will help achieve balance sheet separation is implausible. It assumes lenders will lend more to three waters entities because they have mana whanua representatives and that entities will be better at repaying debts.
“If anything, having people who are appointed from a smaller pool of candidates without full democratic scrutiny makes the new entities a greater risk.
“Co-government only remains part of Three Waters because Labour’s Māori Caucus want it to be. 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.
“All New Zealanders are born equally and everyone should have equal rights.”