“The Waikato River Authority needs to ask itself ‘whose water is it anyway?,’” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Parliament established the Authority to look after the health of the Waikato River, not to hold the country to ransom. Parliament gave the Authority its rights. Parliament must now put the Authority in its place.

“Right now, there are 416,000 litres of water flowing past Mercer every second. Auckland’s request of 25 million litres per day amounts to 289 litres per second. Auckland is asking for 0.7 per cent of what flows into the sea.

“The Authority has got too big for its boots. The Authority thinks it is above the national interest. Parliament needs to give them a reminder of where its power comes from in the first place.

“The problem is this Government has its priorities all wrong. This Government rushes legislation through marathon urgency sessions, gives prisoners the right to vote, and intervenes at Ihumātao, but when the largest city is running dry it’s nowhere to be seen. Take the example of the Forests Amendment Bill. This Government thinks it’s more urgent to register tree salesmen than get 1.5 million people a reliable water supply.

“An obvious opportunity to get this done would be to add an amendment to the the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill, but the Government has not done it.

“The trouble is New Zealand First is playing politics. The Government has a 5-4 majority on the Committee. Why would it not make the amendment with the help of advisors in Select Committee? So it can publicly submit an amendment at the Committee of the Whole House stage of lawmaking.

“The water shortage was an issue all along. Was it left out of the original bill so New Zealand First could take the credit? Has the Government been playing politics all this time? Or is it just hopeless at prioritising?

“New Zealand First are politically grandstanding on a sensitive issue, which, sadly, will be its epitaph.”