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Nixon seeks opposition to 3 Waters

Masterton councillor Tina Nixon. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A Masterton councillor who called the Government a “deceitful, lying pack of bastards” for its Three Waters Reforms approach is now pushing her council to join a campaign opposing it.

Councillor Tina Nixon has put a notice of motion before her council asking that they sign a Memorandum of Understanding for a campaign to convince the government to change its intentions.

“The purpose of the campaign is to convince the Government to alter its intention to proceed with legislation that would compel councils to transfer their Three Waters assets to another legal entity without the agreement of an affected council to that transfer,” Nixon’s notice of motion states.

At least 24 councils are already signed on to the campaign, including the nearby Tararua District Council.

Nixon is asking for Masterton District Council to become a “partner council” in the campaign and noted that the cost to join the campaign was $15,000.

She has asked for the funds to come out of existing operational budgets.

On October 27 last year, the Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta announced that the Three Waters Reform process would become mandatory for all councils.

She said there had been at least two decades of underinvestment in water infrastructure.

“The case for change is too compelling to ignore,” Mahuta said in October.

“It is clear that without the establishment of these publicly-owned entities we will continue to see a frail network and contaminated water in many communities.”

The Government intends to introduce legislation into the House mid-2022 which would in effect force councils to hand over control and effective ownership of their water assets to one of four new water entities, Nixon said.

Councils would not be compensated for any transferred assets, the Department of Internal Affairs has previously confirmed.

The Government had previously promised that councils would be able to opt-out, and many councils have objected strongly to the mandate.

Nixon said Mahuta’s announcement had left many mayors and councils “extremely disappointed”.

She also said no formal consultation had happened in the Masterton district on the reforms but that several groups had been engaged “and their feedback is that they are opposed to the Government’s Three Waters Reform proposal”.

“At this point, no formal discussions have occurred with local iwi to determine their position on the Government’s announcement to mandate the reform,” Nixon said.

Masterton councillors are set to meet today to discuss Nixon’s notice of motion.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson is on the working group the Government has appointed to settle issues over how four new water entities will be run.

The working group has until February 28 to report back and recommend any changes to draft legislation.

The bill would be introduced to Parliament shortly after. — NZLDR

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