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Three Waters bill: Submissions closed


Submissions have now closed on the Water Services Entities Bill, and all three Wairarapa councils have outlined concerns with the Three Waters legislation.

Masterton District Council, which is a member of the Communities 4 Local Democracy coalition, disagreed with the government’s policy approach.

The council supported the coalition’s submission, which proposed the Bill does not proceed, in favour of the development of a framework for local authorities to provide their own solutions for meaningful change to Three Waters asset governance and management while retaining ownership of the assets involved.

In its own submission, Masterton District Council asked for the Bill to be delayed to allow for the community, stakeholders, and Parliament to “understand the full complexities of the proposed system before proceeding”.

The Water Services Entities Bill establishes four publicly owned water services entities that aim to provide safe, reliable, and efficient water services in place of local authorities.

This includes the provision of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater.
Masterton District Council wants stormwater to be removed from the Bill, or to have a transitioned approach.

Each Wairarapa council expressed concerns about a significant loss of local voice, including a lack of adequate representation of territorial authority views on the Regional Representation Group [RRG].

The Eastern Central Water Services Entity, which would service Wairarapa, covers 21 local government organisations, 31 iwi and more than 200 Marae.

All these would be aggregated into the proposed RRG structure of no more than 14 representatives.

At least 14 local government organisations and 24 iwi would not be represented on the RRG.

In its submission, Carterton District Council [CDC] outlined several concerns about the transition to the new entity arrangement.

“The roles CDC’s water operations staff undertake form an essential part of the levels of service it delivers,” a spokesperson said.

“The loss of just two or three key staff could result in CDC’s operational capacity collapsing.

“Council strongly encourages the government to support councils in retaining key staff during this transition period by instructing the National Transition Unit [NTU] to not actively recruit or second staff from Local Government Organisations [LGOs].”

CDC also expressed concerns that the NTU engagement model was not welcoming of feedback or questions, including at the chief executive level.

“We believe this significantly increases the risk of a deficient transition and results in sub-standard outcomes for our staff and communities.”

Final submissions from across New Zealand were not available on the Parliament website at the time of publication, including the joint submission from South Wairarapa councillors.

Individual councillors have also made submissions. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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