Firstly, a Minister stands up against the Māori Caucus:
It was fascinating to see that David Parker, according to Fran O’Sullivan in NZ Herald on Saturday wrote:
Environment Minister David Parker has revealed he came under “strong pressure” to ensure New Zealand’s new planning regime was governed 50:50 with Māoridom. But the Government instead opted for a “National Māori Entity” to monitor whether government bodies used their powers in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Parker’s clearly been thinking deeply on the tensions emerging between New Zealand’s democracy and the steady march of 50:50 co-governance with Māoridom.
In my view this is welcome as there has been precious little public indication that this is an issue which the Labour Government — which rules with an absolute parliamentary majority — is engaged in.
At this week’s Infrastructure New Zealand conference, Parker was open about the pressure he had come under “to go 50:50 with Māoridom” on the makeup of the new regional planning committees that will be set up once the resource management legislation is replaced by two bills which have been in front of Parliament this week.
Am I the only person who is suspicious of Taumata Arowai?
The centralising inclinations of this government makes me suspicious of the water regulator Taumata Arowai.
The Press reported last week:
Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri have are collectively seeking chlorine exemptions from 10 water supplies, Taumata Arowai said. Christchurch’s exemption applies citywide.
Waimakariri is seeking exemptions for water supplies in Cust, Oxford, Waikuku, Rangiora, Pegasus-Woodend, and Kaiapoi.
Suppliers must plan and manage risks. They must also provide Taumata Arowai with “the assurance that they are providing safe drinking water”.
I fear that as citizens we will experience central directives which will impose stricter and stricter guidelines often driven by academic purists hiding behind the institution. Here’s the article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/130543024/government-water-regulator-closely-watching-christchurch-and-waimakariri
The financial model of 3 Waters is risky:
Here is some of the analysis undertaken of some of the assumptions which are driving the government’s proposed structures for 3 Waters:
Inflation will remain at 2% with an interest rate of 3%. Other costs have not yet been determined by the government. When asked what work has been undertaken to estimate the costs that the water service entities will incur in relation to their engagement with mana whenua (including funding the production of Te Mana o te Wai statements to the relevant water services entities by as many as 1200 iwi and hapu) the government responded:
Explicit cost-related work by the Department is still ongoing and has not yet estimated the specific costs to the new water services entities in regard to supporting mana whenua participation. At this stage in the Three Waters Reform Programme, estimation of the overall ongoing operational costs for the entities once they are established are being projected by using the costs currently incurred by councils. These operational costs will include support for mechanisms that relate to mana whenua inclusion in three waters delivery services and functions.
An RNZ article in which Standard & Poor’s publicly expressed frustration about the lack of information relating to how the Three Waters reforms would be implemented. Specifically, S&P expressed concerns about how the water assets would be transferred to the new entities – which undoubtedly would be a hellishly complicated and time-consuming process requiring careful planning and execution.
In addition, S&P raised questions about the financial aspects of the reforms, such as whether the councils would receive any payments in return for the transfer of their assets and how large any payments would be, or how much debt councils would be left to carry, noting that “some councils would be left holding a high level of debt without a revenue line to cover that expense”.
Remarkably S&P’s uncertainty over potential credit rating adjustments relates not only to local government bodies but also to the New Zealand Government itself. Standard & Poor’s director of sovereign and public finance ratings Anthony Walker stated:
The agency could change its outlook as new information emerged, but we’re unlikely to actually upgrade or downgrade before we actually see that election outcome because that will be vital … [adding] the opposition had said it would scrap three waters if it won.
Not only does this intervention by S&P threaten to upset investor confidence in New Zealand’s credit strength at a time of volatility in the global financial markets but it also seems to indicate that Standard & Poor’s has serious concerns about the government’s ability to implement these reforms, and indeed if this government or Three Waters will survive the next election.
The government has tripped itself up with the complications of their Three/Five Water reforms:
In the last week the government demonstrated that it has been completely duped by Tuku Morgan and a Select Committee. The Water Services Bill was rushed through a second reading even though key figures within Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Minister of Energy, did not understand what had happened. Disappointing that a former Professor of Law local Christchurch MP Duncan Webb voted for it. Supporting legislation which I believe had serious mistakes in it.
Then the government moved into damage control. RNZ reported that the prime minister insisted that it was not now 5 waters:
“I’ve read the legislation; it does not change the scope. It’s a reference to the impact that if you pump for instance wastewater into the ocean, it has an impact on coastal water,” Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday.
But she acknowledged that part of the bill could be clarified.
“It has caused potentially some confusion. So, we’ll ask the drafters whether there’s a way to make it much clearer.”
Here’s the RNZ article: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/479301/government-moves-to-address-three-waters-confusion.