Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty being sworn in as a minister outside of cabinet last week. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty will be taking on more responsibility for controversial reforms – including Three Waters – in his new role as Associate Minister of Local Government.

Before the announcement of his new title last week, McAnulty had thrown his support behind Three Waters reforms at the first reading of the Water Service Entities Bill.

This was despite three of the five councils in his electorate being members of the Communities 4 Local Democracy action, which opposed the reforms [Masterton, Tararua, and Central Hawke’s Bay].

At last week’s first reading of the Water Service Entities Bill in Parliament, McAnulty said Wairarapa councils had expressed concerns about the proposals, “but each one of them says that reform is necessary”.

“So, while we’re standing here today in Parliament, we can clearly say that we have two choices.

“We reform, or we stay as we are.”

He said a “huge level of expense” was needed over the next 30 years to upgrade and maintain Three Waters services.

“The fact remains that many councils, in particular small rural councils, can’t afford to do this work – they can’t.

“I have in my electorate five district councils. I’ve met with all of them, I’ve heard their concerns, and I’ve relayed those concerns to the Minister.

“Many of those concerns have been implemented in the changes that have come out of the working group’s recommendations, and the bill is significantly improved as a result of that.”

A Stop Three Waters roadshow stopped in Carterton, Martinborough, and Masterton last week. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

McAnulty said Three Waters reforms would benefit South Wairarapa and Tararua district councils in particular as both were large rural areas with many small towns and a small rating base.

“They are facing significant rate increases, as it is, without facing the hundreds of millions of dollars each council is facing over the next 30 years.

“If we stay with the status quo, as the National Party is proposing, it is the ratepayers that will face that bill.

“They can’t afford the rates as they are. They cannot afford the rates increases that are being proposed.

“And I don’t say that to lay blame on the councils because every single council in the Wairarapa electorate is full of dedicated and committed community members who are doing their utmost for their community.”

McAnulty acknowledged concerns about the Water Service Entities Bill but said the proposed reforms would be “significantly better for the small rural councils than the status quo”.

He said many councils were already at the cap of their borrowing, whereas new entities could access borrowing that individual councils could not.” – NZLDR

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