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Urging a rethink on Three Waters

Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell is urging new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to amend Three Waters reform proposals, echoing the call of local government action group Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mo te Manapori [C4LD] for him to “rescue the reforms”.

“As the new prime minister, he has a real opportunity to show he is open to listening to what New Zealand communities are saying and reset Three Waters proposals,” Caffell said.

“As a member of the C4LD, Masterton District Council fully supports the changes put forward – there is no better time for the prime minister to act constructively on plans that have been widely opposed by councils around the country.

“Let’s get on with finding a way forward that all councils and their communities can support that reflects the wealth of knowledge and experience that we have in managing water.”

In October 2021, Cabinet agreed to progress the Three Waters Reforms, which involve drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services being provided by four publicly owned water service entities [WSE] from July 2024.

These WSEs would take over the responsibilities for water service delivery from local authorities, something many councils have opposed on the grounds that it would strip local communities of assets they have paid for.

The 31 member councils of C4LD said that, with Hipkins signalling a review of the government’s policy agenda, he has an opportunity to deliver on the aims of three waters reform in a way that will bring communities with him.

Carterton and South Wairarapa councils are not members of C4LD but have both previously voiced concerns about the reform process.

With Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty appointed Local Government Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle last week, the New Zealand Taxpayers Union is also calling on him to “press pause” on the reforms.

Taxpayers’ Union campaigns manager Callum Purves said a new Minister for Local Government presents an opportunity for the government to prove it values local democracy.

“The strongest signal Mr McAnulty could send that the Government means business when it talks of a reset is by pressing pause on Three Waters.

“Now is the time to consider alternative models for water reform, such as the one proposed by C4LD and backed by 31 councils and the mayors of our two largest cities.” -NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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