29 April 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Responding to the Government’s revised Three Waters plan announced today, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says:

“The Government is desperately holding up an imagined threat of privatisation to justify its asset grab. Ironically, the Government’s Three Waters plan itself is a form of privatisation for the way it allows iwi groups to profit from publicly-funded water assets, but prevents payments to councils.”

“The move to give Councils shares in the new water entities is an obvious attempt to ward off accusations that Three Waters is an asset grab. But it’s a deceit: regardless of their shareholdings, councils (and therefore ratepayers) will still be stripped of all the crucial rights of control that are usually associated with ownership. Councils won’t be allowed to receive a return from the water entities, yet that is specifically allowed for mana whenua groups. Ratepayers will no longer ‘own’ the assets in any meaningful sense.”

“On balance, the recommendations now adopted by the Government make Three Waters even worse. A new bureaucracy – a Water Services Ombudsman – is established with a ‘tikanga-based dispute resolution process’. There will be a separate consultation process for mana whenua. Perhaps the most insulting part of the revised plan is yet another public communications campaign to explain the ‘need for change’ to New Zealanders.”

“Grant Robertson’s claim that this co-governance model is supported by most councils is laughable. Every day the Taxpayers’ Union is being contacted by democratically elected officials alarmed at the undermining of democracy.”

“The Government has also tried to confuse the media and the public by ‘ruling out’ co-governance for the entity boards – which was never on the table. This is cynical political spin doctoring at its very worst. Kiwis will see straight through it.”

“The Government was never really serious about revamping this deeply unpopular policy. They stacked the Working Group with pro-Three Waters Mayors, made the group itself co-governed, and barred it from reviewing the governance arrangements that make the scheme so bureaucratic and unaccountable.”

The Union’s petition to stop Three Waters has been signed by 89,000 New Zealanders. Its TV advertising will be relaunching over the next few days – funded by thousands of Kiwis who have chipped in via www.taxpayers.org.nz/donate_three_waters