Over the past week the government rammed through the 3 Waters legislation. The 3 Waters Bill passed its 3rd reading last week. It is now law. Until reversed by another government, hopefully. The government’s approach toward local government and our water supplies has made me despair about how yet again this government seems to think that centralising is the answer to everything.
In Newsroom over the weekend, it was reported that government departments were concerned that the government was so intent on forcing through its legislation that:
..their analysis is constrained by the Government’s determination to push through Three Waters laws in time for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to transfer to big regional corporations by July 2024.
“These time constraints have prevented us from investigating distributional impacts of the problem on certain segments of New Zealand consumers, such as vulnerable consumers and traditionally under-served communities,” says one regulatory impact statement. “However, this limitation is partially mitigated by the work Department of Internal Affairs is undertaking on protections for vulnerable consumers.”
Ministers have jammed the foot down on the accelerator even harder and introduced the final two bills last night – hard on the heels of using its Labour Parliamentary majority to pass the Water Services Entities Bill without support from any other parties.
If Tuesday Club regulars think back to Dame Anne Salmond’s presentation to us earlier in the year you will recall she spoke about Clause 2 of the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi referring to “kaumatua, hapu and the Queen”. When the Bill was put to the House for its 3rd reading only Labour voted for it. The Māori Party spoke to this point. The argument that Hapu is local and not reflected in the structure of the Bill is telling.
It is normal when creating a new organisation to have the funding package established as part of the to-be-started structure. The fact that the government rammed through another bill at the end of last week with the details of the funding structure of the 3 Waters entities seems strange.
The analysis of this funding package will enable us to assess what impact this legislation will have on our council’s finances. Newsroom reported on Friday:
The law change is contained in the final Three Waters bills, introduced to Parliament on Thursday evening. Credit ratings agency Standard and Poors has been analysing the proposed model, and its analysts spoke with Newsroom.
Their confidence that no local authority will suffer a credit rating downgrade has now waned, but they say they won’t be able to make a final determination until next year’s election decides the fate of Labour’s water reforms.
This is potentially dangerous for CCC. If S & P downgrade the Council’s credit rating because of the loss of revenue from water rates the finances of the organisation will take another hit.
We will see where we end up. I just despair that our local MP’s have not supported our council and will see the loss of an essential local structure which has been accountable and answerable to us as ratepayers.
Instead, they have supported the creation of a structure Roger Douglas would be proud to be associated with.https://www.newsroom.co.nz/pro/ultimate-three-waters-bills-reveal-impact-on-councils