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Billion dollar water bill for reform

Media Release - For Immediate Release

The Government has already spent $34 million designing a reform so badly received they plan to bill water users more than a billion dollars to bring stakeholders on board.

Figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs shows that the Government has spent $34 million to date on the four mega-corporation model for Three Waters Reform, with more than $9 million on staffing and $24 million on external contractors.

The more than $1 billion mooted as part of the ‘no worse off’ and ‘better off’ funding package being given to councils will be funded through future water charges from the new entities.

Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori Chair and Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys said a cheaper and more effective option would have been to listen to stakeholders rather than spend millions on expensive consultants.

“While any reform of this type isn’t going to be cheap, to spend $34 million to come up with a flawed proposal that no one is happy with beggars belief,” she said.

“Flaws aside, to then mandate a reform that’s overwhelmingly unpopular with communities and requires more than a billion dollars in spending to convince councils to come on board, when councils agree reform of some kind is necessary, is an astounding waste of money.

“Communities 4 Local Democracy has used its expertise and knowledge to put together a workable framework for reform that could get broad council and community support for a fraction of what the Government has spent so far on travel alone.

“If the Government had come to councils at an early stage, and in the spirit of true partnership, this could have been a completely different story and significantly cheaper one.

“Why they would pay more than $1.2 million to a Scottish water regulator for a model, rather than come to the people actually running the services in New Zealand, is truly baffling.

“But we owe it to our communities to work constructively on this, that’s why our door is always open to work with the Government on a multi-party model that works for everyone, not something that could end every time there’s a change in the party in charge.

“Not all of the $34 million is a wasted spend, we can use the knowledge gained from councils to help bring in more flexible and effective solutions.

“It’s not too late to save this reform, we just need some real collaboration not coercion.”

"Deputy Mayor David Carruthers agrees, "Westland District Council is very willing to work in collaboration with the government to achieve the aims of the three waters reform. However, we do not want our communities to suffer a flawed reform forced on them. Finding a way to work together to improve issues around water would be a much more painless way to implement reform for communities, iwi, local and central government."

For more information about Communities 4 Local Democracy and its model for better reform, visit:


Media Contacts: Stephen Doran, Timaru District Council, 027 202 7784; Emma Rae, Westland District Council