Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Government delivers Local Water Done Well for Auckland

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Pictured at the announcement of the Government’s Local Water Done Well agreement are, from left, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown and Auckland mayor Wayne Brown. Photo supplied
  • By Simeon Brown, Member of Parliament for Pakuranga

The Government recently announced we had delivered on our promise to provide a financially sustainable model for the management of Auckland’s water assets, under our new Local Water Done Well plan.

This plan, which was unanimously endorsed by the Auckland Council’s governing body, will see local ownership of water assets preserved and avoid what was projected by Watercare to be around a 25 per cent increase in water rates this year.

We have worked closely with Auckland mayor Wayne Brown and Auckland Council to come to this agreement, which will ensure water rates remain affordable going forward.

Importantly, the retention of water assets in local hands is a key part of the agreement, after the previous Government wasted $1.2 billion trying to centralise them, reforms that were resoundingly rejected by voters.

I am particularly proud of how quickly we have reached this agreement, with many saying we couldn’t design a new model for Watercare in such a short space of time.

It was important to provide certainty to Auckland ratepayers about the future of their water assets and to ensure the solution was financially sustainable.

The new model will allow Watercare to borrow more money for long-term investment in water infrastructure and spread the borrowing over a longer period of time instead of front-loading the cost on to current ratepayers.

This allows the council to invest in such infrastructure today without having to worry as much about the immediate cost, something that had previously held back progress and was the primary driver of the proposed 25 per cent-plus water rates increase.

I agree with mayor Brown’s comments that councils should have more say about how they manage and deliver their water systems, something National campaigned on for years before forming government.

With this agreement now in place, Auckland can start planning for the long-term future of local water assets, ensuring they are fit for generations of Aucklanders to come.

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