by John Robinson
Information provided within the Three Waters survey, organised by mayoral candidate Rob McCann, at surveymonkey.com/r/TKBC9WC, is incomplete and misleading. It fails to accurately describe the basic structure proposed. Here are a few key features of the proposal.
Now, the people and our Kapiti Council own and control the water. The only part allowed the KCDC in the proposed system would be to meet with the 20 other regional councils in this central region to choose six people for half of a “regional representative group”. But councils only provide half of these ‘regional representatives – the other six will be “mana whenua representatives”.
The new system will be monitored; actions will be overseen by the “dedicated water services regulator” for the system, Taumata Arowai, which will protect Maori interests, operating “from a te ao Maori perspective aspiring to higher outcomes for wai and tangata in Aotearoa”.
This is the racial division and co-governance which is now government policy, surely the most important issue here, which is ignored in the survey.
That “regional representative group” then appoints members to an “Independent Selection Panel”, which will in turn make appointments to a “water services entity”. Despite the claim of council ownership made in the survey and in the introduction to the Bill before Parliament, the Bill states clearly that “water services assets are owned and operated by a water services entity”. There is the control, there is the ownership, far removed from any effective council ‘ownership’, again a point not made clear in the survey.
I have learned that the Taxpayer’s Union has sought legal advice on this question of ownership, which reaches the same conclusion. “The legal opinion is very detailed, but it is not hard to understand. It calls the claims of retention of local ownership ‘false, misleading and deceptive’ as ‘councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership’. Gary Judd QC comments in his review of the legal opinion: ‘When all the lying statements are put together, as [the] opinion does, the government’s effrontery is breath-taking’.”
Another error in the survey is the claim that “the new entities will be able to borrow against the assets to build new infrastructure.” This was so in a previous proposal, but this has been successfully challenged, and the current Bill states that “an entity must not use water services assets as security for any purpose”. McCann has failed to update his sketchy set of semi-facts.
It would be sad if rate-payers should be misled by such propaganda-type ‘information’. This Three Waters legislation is too important to treat lightly, and it is essential to read it all carefully (the full Bill) and to consider what is intended.
This was sent as a letter to the Kapiti News which ignored it. It’s worth noting that Cr Rob McCann seconded Cr Bernie Randall’s motion at the last council meeting opposing 3 Waters; but no other Cr supported it. —Eds