Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Three Waters is gone – it’s time for Local Water Done Well

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Pakuranga MP and the Minister of Transport, Energy and Auckland, Simeon Brown. Times file photo Wayne Martin
  • By Simeon Brown, Member of Parliament for Pakuranga

Last week, the National Government passed legislation to formally repeal Labour’s disastrous Three Waters legislation, their attempt to centralise water assets and take them out of local hands.

National has long-fought against such a move and, as Local Government Minister, I was tasked with getting rid of it in our first 100 days in office.

The vast majority of councils and regional authorities in New Zealand were opposed to Three Waters from the start, as they have managed our water assets for decades at the behest of the ratepayers who pay for them.

Keeping them in local hands means communities can continue to hold their councils to account for the way these assets are managed, instead of central government telling everyone they know best.

But we won’t be stopping there. National recognises that some change will be needed to ensure our water assets are maintained to a high standard for generations to come and we accept that our water infrastructure is in dire need of attention and investment.

That’s why we’ll be implementing our own plan called Local Water Done Well, which we announced during the election campaign last year.

It will consist of two separate Bills in Parliament, the first of which will be introduced and enacted by mid-2024, and the second of which will be enacted by mid-2025.

The primary goal of this new policy is to create proper standards for water quality and for long-term investment in water infrastructure.

We support keeping decision-making in local hands but will require councils to take proactive steps to better manage water assets and give them the attention they deserve.

This will be achieved through required water service delivery plans that outline how councils will deliver outcomes for water quality, infrastructure investment and financial sustainability.

Essentially, councils will continue to take charge of solutions to their local water needs but will do so with greater oversight from central government.

I know most councils have already begun work on long-term plans for their water assets and I am looking forward to working with them as we deliver our Local Water Done Well plan.

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