Today, the Government announced that they will mandate Councils to join one of four centralised water entities.
"This shocking show of power-play confirms National's earlier warnings that the Labour Government is set on disregarding the opinions of democratically elected local representatives and forcing their will on communities instead,” says Louise Upston, MP for Taupō.
"While the Minister repeatedly stated she was 'proposing' reform of Three Waters, her announcement confirms that her Government had already made their mind up before the farcical 'consultation' with Councils for their views even started.
"I’ve been in regular contact with the Mayors of the Waipā District Council, South Waikato District Council and Taupō District Council, and the Councils have been unequivocally opposed to the flawed four entity model too.
“At a recent Three Waters online meeting attended by community representatives, and at a meeting with Mayors today following the announcement, Councils’ have reiterated their concerns about the potential for a wider constitutional issue arising around the legality of the Government’s heavy-handedness.
“The Government has broken its promises to Councils who entered into consultation in good faith.
"To make matters worse, not only is control and power taken away from local communities, ratepayers will still be held liable for the debt and other maintenance costs associated with those assets.
"If an all-in approach was always the Minister's plan, why did she waste Councils' time by pretending to seek their views through a farcical engagement process?
"I have been quite unequivocal in my views on this asset grab issue. The Government's actions are unacceptable and I will strongly advocate for our local communities in Parliament in opposing it when the proposed Bill comes to the House for debate.
"If Labour rams their Bill through as expected, there will still be an opportunity through the Select Committee process for the public to have their say.
“55,000 people have already signed National’s petition. I urge our local communities to unite against this undemocratic power play by the Government and stand up for their rights.
"The next National Government will repeal the Three Waters asset grab and return seized assets to Councils and their communities' control."
The petition can be found at https://www.national.org.nz/stop-the-three-waters-asset-grab.
Media contact: Louise Upston 027 476 7887
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