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C4LD presents credible, widely supported 3 Waters reform plan

Media release Kōrero Pānui

The campaign representing nearly half of all local authorities in New Zealand has asked government to listen to their community rather than pushing forward with their current plan.

Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori (C4LD) presented to the Finance and Expenditure committee on Monday 29 August outlining its pathway to deliver better water reform, and exposing the significant shortfalls in the Government’s current proposal.

Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith said that Westland District Council endorsed the presentation from C4LD.

“We believe that the approach proposed by C4LD will provide a better outcome for the community. This is what we have told the government in our submission to the select committee. We completely support what C4LD have told the committee.”

C4LD Chair and Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys said that while the whole local government sector agrees with the need to ensure proper investment occurs at the right place and at the right time, the sector is pretty much unified against the plan currently on the table.

“We argue strongly that any reform should follow standard utility reform processes which respects property rights and gives real weight to local voice and input. 

“The usual approach to utility reform is to set rigorous regulatory standards and then actually enforce them.  The role of the asset owner is to meet those standards knowing that real and effective enforcement will occur if the owner does not. 

“This creates, in turn, a very real and effective incentive to reform water services delivery but which allows local approaches to local issues within the broader national regulatory umbrella.  For this reason, we support the Government’s changes to the broader regulatory regime.”

One of the major findings in the work done by C4LD is that the massive transition costs required in the setting up and running of the four entity model is unnecessary and a significant waste of money.

“Castalia’s modelling for us shows that capital expenditure in the sector is actually financeable for the next 20 years, and beyond that with only the most modest of price increases. 

“Accordingly, the four mega entity, “balance sheet separation” is simply not necessary.  Other structural alternatives do exist and would effectively address the core problem.”

C4LD Deputy Chair and Waimakariri District Mayor Dan Gordon said that the loss of control and any real influence was a real issue for our communities, and shouldn’t be overlooked by the Government.

“At times of Civil Defence emergencies having the ability to influence how staff and contractors are deployed to protect our community is crucial,” he said.

“We know we have very real on the ground experience with earthquakes and now regular weather events that leads to flooding.  You only have to look at the recent rain events particularly in Nelson and Marlborough to see that.

“Under the Entity Based model this lack of control and influence is a serious concern for our Councils and communities.  When times are tough, communities want to see a local face who knows and understands them – not an unknown and distant bureaucrat.

“It is our view there is a better and more durable way to deliver Three Waters reform than the model contained in the Bill.  C4LD considers the alternative approach outlined in some detail in our submission is the way to do this.  We ask the Government and the Select Committee to consider this seriously.

“It’s not too late to turn this issue around, for the Government to genuinely partner with councils and communities to achieve reform that everyone can agree with.  We believe our alternative model is one that could achieve bipartisan political support.  This would ensure that any reform is enduring.  

“And with reform as important as this is – it should be.”


Media Contact: Stephen Doran, 027 202 7784 /