STDC Says No to Three Waters
At Tuesday’s (19 July) extraordinary meeting South Taranaki District Councillors unanimously approved a submission vigorously opposing the Government’s Three Waters Reform Proposal.
The submission comes following the introduction of the Government’s Water Services Entities Bill, which is currently sitting with Parliaments Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.
The controversial Bill, if enacted in its current form, will take control, management, and delivery of three waters services (water, wastewater, and storm water) away from councils and give them to four mega entities. Under the legislation all three waters staff, assets and liabilities will transfer to the new entities on 1 July 2024.
For South Taranaki this means the Council’s three water assets would be taken over by the Western - Central entity, an amalgamation of 22 Councils across the Waikato (including Hamilton), Bay of Plenty (including Tauranga and Whakatane) and Taranaki Regions and the Ruapehu, Whanganui and Rangitikei Districts.
South Taranaki Mayor, Phil Nixon says the Council submission accepts some reform is needed in the three waters space, however not the centralised ‘one size fits none’ approach the government has taken.
“The Government’s analysis underpinning their whole programme is totally flawed. The degree of investment claimed to be needed is considerably overstated and the supposed cost savings under the proposal are highly implausible. Critically, ownership and accountability has been taken away from the communities who actually own the assets,” says Nixon.
“Our Council has a good track record for delivering three waters infrastructure for building, maintaining, and operating this infrastructure. We certainly have the financial capacity to continue to do this and under our own long-term plan we would have achieved the outcomes Government is seeking well before 2050. We simply don’t see the value for our communities in the proposed reforms,” he says.
Nixon says the Council has been extremely disappointed with the government’s handling of this proposed reform.
“There has been no meaningful consultation with Iwi, Council or our community – the promise of opting out was taken away from us, and it’s been Councils that have had to continue to engage in good faith and not the other way around. I can only hope that the Government takes our concerns seriously and listens to the wishes of the people.”
You can read the Council’s full submission on the Water Services Entities Bill here.
You can read the Communities 4 Local Democracy Submission here.
You can read the Flaws in the Water Services Entities Bill here.
You can read the Better Reform Options here.