(National Party media release)

Nanaia Mahuta’s performance in Parliament Tuesday has shown any spirit of partnership she may have feigned with councils is well and truly gone and the Three Waters Reforms will be rammed through at any cost, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“The Minister is clearly facing massive pressure and backlash from her sector – not to mention the New Zealand public – and she is obviously frustrated by councils refusing to bend to her will.

“Yesterday she delivered an appalling broadside on elected councils where she insulted their intelligence and questioned the motives of some, suggesting they had never approached the Three Waters Reforms in good faith or with an open mind.

“Once again, the Minister refused to rule out forcing the Three Waters Reforms on councils through legislation.

“When that happens, Local Government New Zealand won’t be able to fight back. The agreement LGNZ signed with the Crown prevents them from actively opposing the Three Waters Reforms being forced through by law.

“Having kneecapped her sector body and painted them into a corner, the Minister might think she can ram through the reforms and get away with it scot-free.

“National has been on the record for months warning that a forced, legislated approach is inevitable.

“As we’ve always suspected, it’s clear the Minister had no real interest in working with councils – the Three Waters plans would always be her way or the highway. No consideration has been given to alternative reform models, and the Minister is ignoring councils’ pleas for the process to be paused.

“The deeply flawed Three Waters Reforms will continue to represent Labour’s love for Wellington centralisation at its worst.

“National will keep vigorously fighting the Three Waters plans with everything we’ve got. We encourage every New Zealander to sign our petition to stop the Three Waters asset grab.”

Note: The Heads of Agreement between the Crown and LGNZ can be found here – see section 4.3 (c).

A message received yesterday evening from National MP Chris Bishop: “The government has just introduced a bill to Parliament which gives them the power to delay the 2022 local body elections all the way through 2023. Totally outrageous and they’re doing it under the cloak of covid. The bill was only introduced yesterday and now we’re debating it under urgency today. The Minister didn’t even bother to mention it in his speech. Luckily we’ve read the fine print and picked up on this.” 

Covid is obviously nothing to do with it, the real reason must be to force 3 Waters through. —Eds