Government makes Three Waters Reforms announcement
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says a working group to consider governance and accountability for the entities that will manage New Zealand’s three waters assets is a constructive step towards addressing councils’ concerns.
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed the proposed four-entity model and announced that the Three Waters Reforms will be mandated through legislation, removing any option for councils to opt out. She also announced a working group will be formed to consider governance and accountability arrangements for the entities, in response to concerns expressed by councils.
“It's great to see the public will get the opportunity to have a say through the legislative process and it’s my expectation that Council will also make a submission," Mayor Chadwick says.
"The infrastructure investment challenges councils across the country face are huge and [Rotorua Lakes Council] chose to be part of the discussions from the outset to ensure that Rotorua had a voice. We have been well represented throughout, at both technical and governance levels.
“Our preliminary position was that we largely agree with the drivers and need for change, but had a number of concerns about the proposal as it currently stands, including key concerns related to the governance and accountability of the proposed new entities. We were also concerned about how the new entities would engage with local iwi and mana whenua.
“Ensuring we maintain a local voice to address local needs and issues is key for us – as it is for all councils – and we want to be assured that local priorities will still be met, so I’m pleased that there will be an opportunity for governance and accountability arrangements to be worked on further via the working group.”
Mayor Chadwick says she is also pleased to hear assurances relating to public ownership of infrastructure assets being maintained and is “keen to see what that looks like”.
Minister Mahuta said councils would co-own three waters assets alongside other councils within the entity they would be part of and said there would be protections put in place to safeguard against private ownership.
Mayor Chadwick says she is not surprised by the decision of the Government to mandate the reforms and says Rotorua Lakes Council will continue to participate constructively in the ongoing reform process.
“Following today’s announcement we’ve got more information to go through to get a thorough understanding of where we’re at but we will continue to be part of the process to ensure an ongoing voice for our community.”
Minister Mahuta said public engagement and consultation would be undertaken as part of the legislation process.
More information and a link to the YouTube video of Minister Mahuta’s announcement today is here: Three Waters Reform Programme - dia.govt.nz
Rotorua Lakes Council’s preliminary position on the Three Waters Reforms is here: Council endorses initial position on Three Waters reform - Rotorua Lakes Council