We’re concerned that some organisations are spreading inflammatory and incorrect ‘information’ (read emotional hype) about Three Waters.
LET’S BE CLEAR: Nelson councillors were NOT voting YES or NO on whether to accept or reject the 3 Waters proposal. That’s in a couple of months’ time. They were merely submitting their VIEWS and their SUGGESTIONS on the proposed 3 Waters. BIG DIFFERENCE!
AND None of us has the final details yet- they haven’t been decided. The proposal may even be radically changed, reflecting the huge outcry nationally over many aspects of it.
So we’d like to share the actual facts as they’re known to date, as well as share the concerns and questions that we have.
1.WE NEED A LOT MORE DETAIL
The intention is that the Three Waters system will standardise the quality of water across New Zealand, and that a community-minded approach across the nation will mean that more well-off councils will assist those needing more help- we’ll all pull together. Sounds laudable; however the actual implementation of Three Waters raises many questions and concerns, and we need much more detail and reliable figures. Government may even have to consider a total re-draft.
2. WHY IS OUR MAYOR ON THE 3 WATERS STEERING COMMITTEE?
ALL MAYORS AND CEOs across the country are part of the committee, as well as various government departments such as Local Government New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs, and the Treasury. The Committee provides oversight and guidance and works to ensure that a broad range of interests and perspectives are considered through the reform process. It is intended to be informative and unbiased.
3. DID OUR COUNCIL HAVE TO SAY YES/NO BY THE END OF SEPTEMBER?
Simply put, NO. Councils have till 1 October to consider the impact of the reforms (including the financial support package) on them and their communities and an opportunity to provide feedback. That’s all. Feedback, and concerns. No formal decisions are required between now and 1 October. Government is seeking feedback on the potential impacts of the proposed reform and how it could be improved.
1.SCOTLAND’S STATISTICS can’t be compared or transferred to NEW ZEALAND’S
Scotland’s situation can’t be compared or transferred to New Zealand’s; we are completely different. As we stated here a couple of weeks ago, the original data on which 3 waters was based, used data from Scotland, known as WICS (Water Industry Commission for Scotland https://wics.scot). Analysts stated that the conclusions drawn from its application to New Zealand could not be substantiated. Apples and oranges. Other analysts have also stated that the figures are not reliable and that the Three Waters plan is trying to apply Scotland’s situation to New Zealand when we are completely different.
2. COST-SAVINGS HAVE BEEN DEBUNKED
Government claims of cost-savings for New Zealanders through proposed water reforms have been debunked in a new report by global economic consultants.
Commissioned by Whangarei District Council, the report from consultants Castalia discredits the underlying premise of the Government’s case for water reform. It refutes proposed efficiencies of amalgamation and predictions of massive price increases if water assets remain with councils.
3. WE’LL HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE ENTITIES
The 4 “entities’ will each have 12 members: 6 Maori and 6 non-Maori. As Nelson is one of the smaller councils in Entity C, will our voice be heard at all on this board? Currently, the government papers say “the entities will be required to engage with communities in a meaningful and effective manner on key documents” – whatever the definition of “engage” and ‘meaningful and effective’ is…
4. WE’LL LOSE ALL CONTROL OF OUR 3-WATERS ASSETS
Current government statements say, “the entities will be operationally and financially separate from their local authority owners.” This is going to be a real sticking point with ratepayers…
5. LOSS OF LOCAL EXPERTISE AND JOBS
Will these regional Entities mean loss of local expertise and knowledge- and local jobs?
6. HOW ON EARTH CAN FIGURES BASED ON A 30-YEARS FORECAST BE BELIEVABLE?
As one financial analyst puts it, ” Projecting that far into the future is more theoretical than practical. Realistically, 10 years is the maximum one would forecast and even then typically the protected scenario bears little correlation to what actually eventuates. One has only to look at past Long Term Council Community Plans which forecast a council’s finances 10-years ahead to see how little correlation they have to what eventuates. “