STDC Joins Communities 4 Local Democracy over 3 Waters
South Taranaki District Mayor, Phil Nixon was one of a large group of Mayors, representing more than a million New Zealanders, who took their Three Waters concerns to Parliament today, marking the first step of a powerful new local democracy campaign.
Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mō te Manapori is a newly formed and growing group of 23 councils from around the country. The group was created in response to serious concerns about the Government’s Three Waters reforms, and numbers are growing as local councils consider the implications of the proposed legislation – in particular losing control of approximately $60 billion of community owned assets across the whole country.
More than a dozen mayors and other elected representatives are taking the group’s message to meetings at Parliament with National ACT and the Green Party.
“Like the Government, we want to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and we are committed to working with the Government to achieve that,” says Helen Worboys, Mayor of Manawatu and Chair of the new group.
“No-one disputes the need for investment, but there’s a better way to achieve the Government’s objectives and we want to work in partnership with them on that,” she says.
“Our action group will introduce fresh ideas for better water. But our fresh ideas will ensure that our local communities continue to have a say on how the assets that they have bought and paid for are used to achieve our health and environmental goals.
“This is an inclusive campaign – it’s about safe drinking water for all New Zealanders, whoever and wherever they are. More meaningful Mana Whenua representation is an important part of that. It’s also an apolitical campaign – we’re completely focused on the issue regardless of political affiliation,” Mayor Worboys says.
South Taranaki Mayor Phil Nixon says the Council decided to join the campaign after Government ignored requests to change its decision.
"While we accepted that things needed some change, what really upset us and many of our ratepayers was Government’s decision to force councils to be part of the Three Waters Reform without any consultation. I’ve never seen so many residents, so angry over a single issue – our communities are very clearly telling us that they don’t want control of the assets that generations of our ratepayers built up and paid for being taken away from them as part of the Government’s plan,” Mayor Nixon says.
“We don’t believe that the best solution lies in putting our assets into what will be four of the largest companies in New Zealand – without being able to have a say in how those companies are run.”
“And given the Government hasn’t provided opportunities for genuine participation in three waters reform, we think it’s entirely appropriate for our Council, in collaboration with other concerned councils, to represent the residents of South Taranaki and give them a voice,” he says.
Communities 4 Local Democracy is taking a constructive approach to the situation by commissioning expert advice on alternative models that might achieve the objectives of Government and local communities. It will be sharing its findings when they are complete.
About Communities 4 Local Democracy
- Communities 4 Local Democracy partner councils (correct as at Tuesday 15 December 2021):
Ashburton District Council
Central Hawkes Bay District Council
Christchurch City Council
Far North District Council
Grey District Council
Hurunui District Council
Kaikōura District Council
Kaipara District Council
Kawerau District Council
Manawatu District Council
Matamata-Piako District Council
Napier City Council
Ōpōtiki District Council
South Taranaki District Council
South Waikato District Council
Tararua District Council
Timaru District Council
Waimakariri District Council
Waimate District Council
Waipa District Council
Wairoa District Council
Westland District Council
Whangarei District Council
- Three partner councils (Whangārei District Council, Timaru District Council and Waimakariri District Council) recently filed a High Court application seeking clarification of what ownership means in relation to their ratepayer-funded water assets. Between them, these three councils have $1.76 billion in ratepayer funded water infrastructure.