“The Government’s decision to delay Three Waters is welcomed by ACT, we just hope Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta uses the extra to time to listen,” says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“The legislation was meant to be introduced in November, then was delayed until April and has now been delayed until later this year. Instead of the Minister explaining the delay and taking questions, she left it up to bureaucrats to tell councils on a Friday afternoon.

“I asked the Minister in Parliament just over a week ago whether she would listen to the recommendations from the Three Waters Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability. Grant Robertson said on her behalf that she will commit to listening to the recommendations but nothing beyond that.

“It seems the delay is just a move to take the pressure off Government but it has no plans to make any changes.

“ACT has an alternative plan and we encourage the Government to look at it.

We would:

• Provide for councils to enter into 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 a Public-Private Partnerships (through our proposed Nation Building Agency) 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.

“Simply 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.

“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. 

“ACT has engaged constructively through the initial process established by the Government. We are unconvinced the Government’s centralised model will result in better outcomes for our communities.

“There’s no point in the delay if the Minister won’t use the time to come up with a better solution. I encourage her to use this time wisely and listen to our local communities.“

Our policy document can be found here