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Three Waters Theft of Assets

Three Waters Theft of Assets

April 2022

Treasury warned Government against $2.5 billion Three Waters package for councils

Come hell or come high water, the Three Waters reform is going ahead. 

The Government revealed on Friday it’s adopting the majority of its working group’s recommendations, including the controversial co-governance structure.

And Newshub revealed that the Government was warned against rolling out a $2.5 billion dollar sweetener package, designed to get council buy in for the Three Waters Proposals. 

On Friday, the Government announced exactly how drinking water, stormwater and wastewater will be managed.

Power over those assets will move from our 67 local councils to four regional entities but those entities will be overseen by regional representative groups to make sure locals have a voice.

The true fact of the matter is that this government is going to legislate to steal these assets from their rightful owners, “The Ratepayers who paid for them” and give a fifty percent share of these assets over to the control of Maori.

The Three Waters Reform Project clearly states that the water entities created will be run by boards that will be appointed and that those boards will consist of 50% Maori and 50% others. It also states that the boards will need a 75% majority to pass any decisions in relation to changes. It also states that there is a requirement for the water entities proposed Boards of management to be adequately competent both as a Treaty partner, and with expertise in accessing matauranga Maori, tikanga Maori and Te Ao Maori knowledge to inform the water entities activities?

The Government also confirmed that councils will maintain ownership over their assets, despite losing control of them. 

“Ownership of the entities themselves will remain with councils alone through a shareholding model that is directly proportional to the size of council populations,” said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. 

This is another lie! It is a fact that if one has no rights in relation to a thing — e.g., no right to use it, to enjoy it, to gain a return from it, to dispose of it, to destroy it, to control it or to control its use — one does not own that thing and this proposal strips local authorities of all the rights of ownership which proves that this claim of ownership is blatantly untrue. It is no more than PR “spin” on a grand scale trying to protect the government’s image. Listing in the legislation alone does not constitute ownership.

There’s been plenty of debate on the topic. The minister was adamant the announcement will smooth things over, but there are still mayors not on board with the reforms. 

“The reforms don’t help us much but they do hinder us if they take away our control,” Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said. “We want to see further changes.”

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon is also not a fan. 

“It’s a dark day for democracy,” he said. “It’s tantamount to theft of community assets and we’ll be fighting this as hard as we can.”

Last year the Government offered a $2.5 billion dollar cash pot for councils to spend on anything they liked in a bid to get more councils on board.

But Newshub revealed that Treasury warned against the handout, essentially calling it a bribe.

“The financial incentives package was intended to increase local authority goodwill towards the reforms and reduce political barriers,” Treasury wrote. 

It also said the Government didn’t provide any analysis for the cost of the package, nor any evidence it would be value for money.

“The paper does not include any analysis or basis for the quantum of the financial incentives package… nor does it provide evidence as to the value for money of this funding.”

As such, Treasury concluded it was not “good use of Crown funding”.

ACT leader David Seymour described the funding as a bribe. 

“If you’re buying political good will, in most countries that’s a bribe,” he said. “I’m not sure what the Government’s going to call it in New Zealand.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson rejected that.

“No,” he replied, when asked if the funding was a bribe. 

“Not at all,” added Mahuta. 

In my opinion this no more than corruption on a grand scale with the government using $2.5 billion of our money to bribe councils to agree to the theft of our assets and the gifting of a 50% share of those assets to Iwi with Iwi effectively gaining control of those assets in perpetuity through the rules under which the water entities boards are appointed.

Without consulting its members, Local Government New Zealand signed a Heads of Agreement with the Government in July 2021, to promote Three Waters in return for funding: “The Crown was proposing to provide ongoing support to LGNZ, by way of separate funding agreements… in the short term (to mid-September 2021) to enable LGNZ to build support within the local government sector for the Three Waters Reform Programme; and subsequently through the transition and implementation phases of the Three Waters Reform Programme (approximately two and half years).” 

While the amount they are being paid to “assist” the Government is not known, the agreement means that instead of representing local authority members, LGNZ’s focus is on helping to orchestrate the “successful implementation” of the reforms.

We may not know the amount being paid to LGNZ under this agreement but we do know that this is another case of using our money to bribe LGNZ to support the proposals the same as the $2.5billion offered to councils which Treasury advised should not happen. This Agreement for funding of LGNZ is in my opinion, the same as the $2.5billion that was offered to councils and should be treated the same as Treasury stated in that case.

 “The financial incentives package was intended to increase local authority goodwill towards the reforms and reduce political barriers,” Treasury wrote. 

 It also said the Government didn’t provide any analysis for the cost of the package, nor any evidence it would be value for money.

 “The paper does not include any analysis or basis for the quantum of the financial incentives package… nor does it provide evidence as to the value for money of this funding.”

As such, Treasury concluded it was not “good use of Crown funding”.

If this government is so certain of the benefits to be had by “all” of the ratepayers of New Zealand, from this “Three Waters Reform”, then they should put it out to a binding referendum to prove that it is what the citizens of New Zealand want.

If they do not do so, given that both major opposition parties have stated categorically that they will repeal any legislation pushed through under this reform, for them to force this through parliament by share weight of numbers will in my opinion be very close to malfeasance of office.

Andy Loader

29/04/2022