This is a topic which we should all become informed on. Last week I wrote about my being really impressed with an interview by Nanaia Mahuta by Kathryn Ryan on RNZ. Unfortunately, I copied a link which ended at a dead end for people and a number of you wrote to me pointing it out.
Thanks to Mike Currie I now have the correct link to the Nanaia Mahuta interview. https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018787692.
I then invited Andrew Turner to comment on the proposed reforms after he had attended a presentation by Internal Affairs on them last week. Here is what he wrote. I have also asked other Councillors to write about their thoughts and concerns.
- Andrew Turner’s comments on water reforms: I am often asked about CCC’s position on the Government’s water reform proposals -whether we will choose to remain in the reform process, or whether we will opt out. The answer is that we are not able to take a position on being “in” or “out” yet, because we need much more information first. Some of the questions that still need clear answers are:
- What type of new entities are the government considering?
- What size will they be and what boundaries will they have?
- Can boundaries in the South Island align with the Ngai Tahu takiwa?
- How will these entities be governed? Who by? What will “ownership” look like?
- Who will they be answerable to or report to? How will they respond to local needs?
- How will communities have a voice?
- Will principles of democracy and accountability be built into the model? How?
- Will there be any surplus or profit? Where will that be distributed?
- Who will decide about chlorination? How about exemptions?
- Who will decide about water charging? How will charges be calculated and billed?
- Will Councils or residents have influence over strategy or decision making? How?
- How will assets be valued for transfer? How will associated debt be treated?
- How are efficiencies calculated? When will they be achieved?
- How will the transition to the new entities ensure we do not lose staff to the new entities before transfer occurs?
- To what extent does this lead to a cross-subsidy from urban to rural? Will this disadvantage Christchurch ratepayers?
- How will links between infrastructure and planning be taken account of?
Government intend that water assets and service delivery will remain in public ownership, but how can we be sure that these won’t be privatised in future?
The water reform work is proceeding at a very fast pace. There are calls for this work to be slowed down to allow more time to fully understand the reform proposals and to respond to them. At the same time, planning reform and the proposed replacement legislation for the RMA is also progressing quickly. Without water and planning functions, the role and scope of local government will change significantly. This will be particularly so for small councils, but will affect larger councils as well. This is essentially local government reform, and Government have said that there will also be a parallel workstream to consider the future of local government. This work is not proceeding at the same pace, but all of these matters really do need to be considered together. Rather than “the future of local government” I would prefer to think of this as “the “future for local government”
Andrew Turner, Deputy Mayor