I wrote a heap of lines on what I thought the background to the reforms were, but when I got deeper and deeper into it, I lost the will to live and deleted the lot.
Everything about the design of 3 Waters is faulty. The numbers on which the structure is based are questionable at best. The governance structure is anti-democratic. The financial structure is dangerous. The payment to local government for their infrastructure is theft (CCC has $6b worth of assets and $1.1b worth of debt and it’s over to the Minister to decide how much debt is taken by the proposed. As payment the last figure I heard was that CCC would receive $122m, I’m not sure whether this is still the number).
Basically, the design of 3 Waters is the worst piece of legislation I have ever seen.
A poll last week showed that of the sample of voters interviewed only 19% supported the 3 Waters legislation. That is a dismal result. The flooding in Auckland and Northland has demonstrated that stormwater is completely supported by land planning. That parks and streets are an essential part of stormwater systems and is the new system designed to take all these facilities off local government as well?
Here’s a graphic of how I think the “negotiations” have gone between central government and local government with the design of the 3 Waters legislation. Local government is the child in the upturned basket and central is represented by the parent:
Let us analyse this picture
The limitations to how far the child can move was designed by vested interests, i.e., consultants employed by Infrastructure and Water NZ and adopted completely by Internal Affairs.
The lid above the child, i.e., the constraint from escaping into other places was approved of by the father, (central government), and designed by consultants and Internal Affairs and agreed to by Local Government New Zealand who let their whole sector down badly.
The father, i.e., central government, does not understand the need for partnership with the child, the necessary toys it should have, or its potential. Other things are more important in the parent’s world.
Then along came other people who had ideas on how to manage the child in a positive manner. So that the cage imposed on the child could be removed which would enable it to thrive and become nurtured by all those around them.
Then the parent put their foot down and insisted that the child was to stay in their confined space because it was their responsibility to be in control.
Here ends today’s parable.
Any solution must take account of the following
- The Future of Local Government Reforms – Their review has come out of deep consultation around the country and is pointing creative ways forward.
- Mana whenua at the table as equal partners, including hapu – not just iwi
- The Mana o Te Wai – Four Waters: it is more than pipes we need to address the needs of our catchments and aquifers, not just the pipes
- Creative funding options – how can this work. Everything is groaning for money to be spent on hospitals, health, education, infrastructure – how can we make this work?
The whole design of the new structures, their almost absence of accountability and the financial base on which it is designed needs to be rethought. We need to build a strong consensus of the way forward.
It’s time for peace pipe smoking time. For everybody to sit back and quietly reflect on what could be possible and just what people could live with. Then the support for change might be greater in the general population than 19%.