*This article was originally published on RNZ and has been republished with permission*
The Government has agreed to make significant changes to the Three Waters Reform following recommendations from the Task Force.
The reform, which was intended to consolidate New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater into four regional bodies, has been so controversial that parliament claims it will lose control.
But a report from the bipartisan Budget and Expenditure Committee recommends that local, state and metropolitan councils now join regional groups.
The entity will also hold an annual general meeting of shareholders, as well as stronger accountability measures and increased audit scrutiny.
The selection committee received over 80,000 submissions for the bill.
In a statement, Regional Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the amendment would make the law more viable.
“They improve local voices, strengthen representation, increase transparency, and provide certainty to Congress and those working in the water service sector about the future of critical infrastructure.
“We have heard from local councils that they feel their voices are being drowned out by metropolitan centers. contains a provision requiring participation in
“We also require entities to establish annual general meetings of shareholders. For transparency, we also require that these meetings and board meetings of entities be held in public. The level of public reporting will enable communities to increase the visibility of their infrastructure investments to support broader health.”
She also said that Home Affairs officials have worked with the Comptroller General to improve accountability measures in the law, including stronger reporting lines and obligations, and increased audit scrutiny.
mafta said RNZMore Having state, metropolitan, and local voices in local representative groups “provides some assurance … that everyone in the community and their interests are involved when decisions are made.” It is important”.
“What we have in front of us now are affordable solutions for rate payers now and in the future, and at a time when the cost of living is a major challenge for households. It’s what we have in front of us.
As for co-ruling, Mahuta said the opposition to it was “a rallying call to other kinds of sentiment.”
Joint decision-making has enabled conversations that put people, communities, safe drinking water, better environmental outcomes and the voice of the larger community at the center.
“I think it’s good for all New Zealanders, wherever they live.”
Asked if there were any selection committee recommendations that the government would not proceed with, Mahta said: As a submitter, I really welcome reports and will work on each recommendation over the weekend. ”
National Party local government spokesman Simon Watts said RNZMore “The bill returned from the Special Committee shows that the government is still not listening. It has not made any significant changes to improve the broken Three Waters model.”
“Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta’s commitment to review and dialogue with the mayor and community on alternatives shows that they are just talking.”
Asked if he agreed with any of the proposals, he said, “I do not support (the bill) in principle.”
National will repeal this bill if elected to government in 2023.
Asked if he was surprised that co-government was not mentioned in the change statement, Watts said yes.
“That is because traveling across the country there are significant concerns and objections regarding the proposed model of governance.”
Watts said National knew the bill’s second reading would be next week.
The Green Party said the model lacked strong community ties and lacked long-term funding certainty.
“First, the Greens want seven entities and local councils to have more oversight of the entities instead of four. We will be able to better coordinate with regional spatial strategies below. Take action,” said Eugenie Sage, a spokesperson for Three Waters in the Greens.
She also favored the Two Waters model, like Auckland’s Watercare, where rainwater was put under council control.
The ACT, which has long insisted it would scrap reforms if approved by the government, said the bill contained nothing about how infrastructure would be paid for, who would pay for it, and how much.
New Zealand Local Government said it would analyze the government’s changes to the Three Waters reform, following recommendations from the task force.
The organization was one of the submitters, and Chairman Stuart Crosby said many councils want fundamental changes to the proposed model.
At first glance, he said it was disappointing that Congress still seemed to have little flexibility regarding rainwater.
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/three-waters-government-agrees-to-significant-changes-after-select-committee-recommendations Three Waters: Government agrees to significant changes