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Councils give Parliament thumbs down on Government’s Three Waters Reforms

HaveYourSay

Hawke’s Bay’s Councils have been unequivocal in rejecting Government’s three waters reforms in their submission to the Finance and Select Committee currently considering the Water Services Entities Bill.

If passed into law, the bill would establish four new super-entities across New Zealand to take control of all council-owned three waters infrastructure and services.

For the people of Hawke’s Bay, that would mean the responsibility for drinking, waste and storm water services would transfer from local councils to a new super-entity covering all of the East Coast of the North Island, down to the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands.

In a strongly worded submission, the Mayors of Wairoa District Council (Craig Little), Central Hawke’s Bay District Council (Alex Walker), Hastings District Council (Sandra Hazlehurst) and Napier City Council (Kirsten Wise) agree change to three waters service delivery is needed, but say they do not support the Water Services Entities Bill because it:

  • does not enable or guarantee fair representation or a regional voice in decision- making
  • will not ensure rural and urban communities or mana whenua have the ability to hold the super-entity to account
  • risks the erosion of services to local communities
  • will not provide for the capability or capacity to deliver quality planning, management and operation of three waters services to local communities
  • does not give confidence that Hawke’s Bay’s communities and environment will be better off in the short to medium-term.

Councils also dispute the analysis Government is basing its reforms on; saying the investment forecast for Hawke’s Bay and the financial estimates underpinning the Water Services Entities Bill are simply not credible.

The submission recommends the Bill not proceed and instead, recommends the Hawke’s Bay Water Services Model be adopted as the most credible alternative to delivering affordable, safe and sustainable three waters services to the communities of Hawke’s Bay.

Mayors say the model offers a credible solution that would achieve the same outcomes Government is seeking – affordable, safe and resilient drinking, waste and storm water services - for Hawke’s Bay’s rural and urban communities; but better provide for regional co- governance with mana whenua and ensure local asset ownership, accountability and decision-making.

Finally, the submission calls on the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee to “bring Parliament to the people” and invites the Committee to hold hearings in Hawke’s Bay for anyone who wishes to be heard on their submission to the Water Services Entities Bill.

Mayors say having Members of Parliament here to listen in the Bay would be a win for the community and for democracy and would allow for crucial debate on legislation that will affect everyone living in Hawke’s Bay.

The Councils’ submission can be viewed at https://www.hb3waters.nz/have-your-say/ .

25 July 2022

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