Three Waters still means no democratic control

Today the Working Group on the divisive Three Waters reforms published their report, leaving the fundamental problem - co-governance - still threaded through their recommendations.

While various headlines have talked up the report proposing shares for councils based on population, those councils would still be subject to a co-governance model stripping local, democratic control from New Zealand's water infrastructure.

This is why Hobson's Pledge, with your support, is sounding the alarm and showing the public the dangers they face with ever-expanding co-governance. 

Copied below are my comments to the media.

Thank you for your support.

Don Brash
Hobson’s Pledge


9 MARCH 2022

Recommendations by the Three Waters Working Group announced today reaffirm the theft of water assets from local councils and the Government’s commitment to have half of all the board members of the regional entities set up to manage the country’s water infrastructure appointed by iwi, said Hobson's Pledge spokesman Don Brash.

“The announcement today tried to provide an assurance of ownership retention through a complex shareholding model."

“But despite the PR spin, councils would not have ownership in any meaningful sense."

“In October last year, it was clear that the legislation was intended to implement a co-governance model that would deprive councils of ownership in any real sense. Our predictions have been realised.”

“Local Government NZ has announced their support for the recommendations, claiming that the Working Group’s recommendations strengthened public ownership.”

But Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has made his dissenting view clear in the Working Group’s report, noting that “democratic accountability, through elected representatives, to the people who funded the water infrastructure in Auckland valued at many billions of dollars and who continue to pay for its operation is critical.”  

He went further, noting that “It is not appropriate to cede control over this infrastructure to other councils and mana whenua and to remove existing accountability to Aucklanders through elected representatives.”

“Misreading the concerns of every community in New Zealand, the Working Group has sought to provide additional reassurance of protection against privatisation,” said Brash.

“But for most New Zealanders the worry is that the Government’s proposal would strip away the ownership of assets paid for by generations of ratepayers and hand control to unelected and unaccountable tribal representatives under a co-governance model which is 100 miles from any concept of democracy, and bears no relationship to what the Treaty of Waitangi provided.  Mr Goff is right.”

“LGNZ’s statement demonstrated its total disregard for ratepayers by concluding that public consultation should be restricted to the Select Committee process.”

“The arrogance with which this Government is deceiving ratepayers is staggering and, contrary to the assurance from Willie Jackson, it would seem New Zealanders have every reason to be afraid,” said Brash.