The Government has indicated that they anticipate a delay in introducing their Three Waters legislation, originally planned to be presented by December last year but now postponed to mid-2022.
But local councils in our Taupō electorate are one step ahead and prepared to face off with Government. Minister Mahuta had publicly conceded that she had 'underestimated' certain things in driving her Three Waters agenda and referring to Councils' 'high level of sensitivity' about her reform plans. She was possibly avoiding naming it for what it is. Councils are overwhelmingly opposed to her asset grab and at the expense of local communities.
In the meantime, the Government has also placed a thinly veiled gag order on councils in an apparent attempt to control what they say to the media about Three Waters. They are attempting to bribe them with a $2 billion funds to spend however they want – even on projects that have nothing to do with water infrastructure. In return for the bribe, councils must not do a0nything that criticises the Government.
It isn't reassuring to see a government that once claimed it would be the most open and transparent Government ever using its power to try to shut down criticism and debate.
To make matters worse, the Government's Three Waters National Transition Unit (NTU) has already provided notice that it would establish a panel of service providers to progress the transition to the four new water service entities proposed to take control of Three Waters. This is before the Government has even taken a bill to Parliament for debate.
I've been in touch with all three local councils in our Taupō electorate who have partnered to oppose the Government's proposed four water entity model.
Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest, Taupō Mayor David Trewavas and Mayor Jenny Shattock of South Waikato District Council and their chief executives are amongst 32 member councils of Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori (C4LD) who have presented their alternative proposals for Three Waters Reform to the Government.
I plan to meet them again in the coming weeks to hear their views and take these to Parliament when the time comes to debate the legislation that the Government is trying to force on local Councils and the communities they represent.
Instead of enforcing their will on Councils, the Government should focus on keeping the 'local' in local Government by encouraging councils to collaborate, contract or form CCOs, and let communities decide what's right for them – not the Beehive.
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