Three Waters plans must be Ditched

By: Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges
National Party MP
simonbridges.co.nz

 Three Waters (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) are currently controlled by 67 democratically elected city and district councils across New Zealand. The Labour Government’s reforms would shift these assets from council control to being managed by four new regional water entities.

While National recognises the case for change, we deeply oppose these reforms for three key reasons. Firstly, the touted cost benefits haven’t been properly explained, with councils disputing the supposed savings to ratepayers.

Secondly, these entities will result in ratepayers cross-subsidising water bills in communities with poorer performing water services – in some cases many hundreds of kilometres away. For example, here in Tauranga we will be in “entity B” which spans the top of the Coromandel through Whanganui. So, in theory, we could end up footing the bill for communities in New Plymouth or Hamilton, for instance.

Thirdly, and most worryingly, these entities will strip power from local communities. Assets that ratepayers have paid to own over generations will be surrendered from council control and bundled into completely undefined, convoluted mega-entities, comprising layers of bureaucrats.

This is just the latest example of Labour’s centralisation agenda. We’ve already seen it in planning, tertiary education, workplace relations and health. The last thing we need is more bloated bureaucracies. Indeed, since Labour took office in 2017 it’s added more than 10,000 more bureaucrats - and counting.

It’s now all but inevitable these reforms will be forced on councils, despite most councils opposing these reforms and many close to opting out.

National understands the quality of water services varies among communities, and thus bespoke, practical solutions are required. As such National would use co-investment and partnerships between central and local government to ensure local communities - who know their communities best - get to have their say on the solutions to their specific needs. We also support the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai, which will set and importantly enforce drinking water standards.

We will continue to oppose the Labour Government’s centralisation and control agenda and will fight for communities to keep their voice. To add your weight to this, please consider joining with the tens of thousands of Kiwis who’ve already signed National’s petition calling on the Government to scrap its asset grab. You can sign it here: https://www.national.org.nz/stop-the-three-waters-asset-grab