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Hauraki-Coromandel Post - 2021-10-14

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Lack of transparency

News

Whangamata Ratepayers has been in close contact with local councillors, community board members, ratepayer membership, local community groups and clubs, listening to comment and feedback. We have attended council meetings where the proposed Three Waters Reforms has been debated. At no time have we been provided with clear outcomes or proposed benefits these reforms will provide for this community and future generations. As a result, we believe that the principles of democracy have been deliberately withheld through the failure of disclosure to the majority of the citizens of New Zealand. It shows a lack of transparency, honesty, and engagement by the Government. The eight-week “engagement” period that ended on September 30 saw councils throughout the country grapple with the Three Waters Reform implications seeking assurances and answers to the proposed changes to the management and delivery of potable, storm, and wastewater services. The Government plan is for New Zealand’s 67 councils’ water services to be merged into four regional entities. As a result, councils are concerned about not having direct influence and no shareholding or formal stake in the proposed entities. Opportunity for consultation from local communities appears to be over as the Government has indicated it will proceed with this legislation. If, in its current format, the Three Waters reform is legislated, there will be serious consequences for smaller councils and communities who will have little or no say in the management and delivery of these utilities in their communities. Management and leadership under the four-entity model being proposed will result in a complicated compilation of unelected governors, appointed boards and managers. If TCDC were to join Entity B, which covers the Waikato and Bay of Plenty through to Taranaki and Whanganui, (an amalgamation of 22 councils), only six democratically elected councillors would represent all 22 councils, the remaining 6 unelected representatives will be iwi, who will hold the power of veto. That group of 12 will appoint an independent panel, which then selects the entity’s board, which then appoints Entity’s B management. Just look at the Auckland Super City and Auckland Transport models as an example. The proposed entity management structure will inevitably become a self-promoting, “we know best” corporate conglomerate and will never deliver an efficient, cost effective Three Waters service. Inevitably this will certainly be the case for smaller rural communities. One only has to witness the arrogance and disdain shown by the Waikato Regional Council officers to local communities here in Whangamata over the care of the harbour. We reiterate, ALL citizens of New Zealand are owners of water. This statement needs to be clarified by central and local government to remove any doubt over ownership. This question of ownership has not been put to the ratepayers and residents of New Zealand.. We await clarification from both central and local government over this point. Our recommendation to our council, is opt out. We urge you to take every opportunity to voice your concerns through as many options as possible. Rob Boston President Whangamata Ratepayers Association

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