The Law Society has labelled the entrenchment clause in the Three Waters legislation “constitutionally objectionable” and introduced in a way that is “undemocratic”.

Newshub has obtained a letter sent to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta from the President of the Law Society on Thursday raising “serious concerns” about the provision and urging it be removed.

National says the letter is “damning” and the Government is “undermining the constitution”.

Mahuta’s office told Newshub the minister is currently in Australia — where she is meeting her Foreign Affairs counterpart — and will respond to the letter in due course.

Green MP Eugenie Sage, who proposed the entrenchment clause, said keeping water assets in public ownership is of prime importance to Kiwis and deserves such protection.

Labour last week supported a proposal from the Greens — via a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) — to entrench part of the Water Services Entities Bill which puts an obligation on water service entities to maintain public ownership of the assets.

Entrenchment means the legislation cannot be repealed unless a a public referendum is held or a special majority of MPs agree to it. Normally this is set at 75 percent, but in this case the threshold was 60 percent.

The move caused outrage among constitutional law academics as entrenchment has previously been reserved for electoral law matters. In an open letter, they said it risked creating a “dangerous precedent” to extend entrenchment to “contested social policy”.

Continue reading