City councillors unite against “undemocratic” Government water reforms

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 27, 2021 |

Christchurch City councillors have united against “undemocratic” Government water reforms.

All Councillors unanimously rejected the Government’s three waters reform, saying the case doesn’t stack up for Christchurch.

Labour Councillor Yani Johanson said “Christchurch out of anyone should know that getting central government involved with bigger agencies and entities, does not provide efficiencies, we’ve had over a decade of that post earthquake and what we saw was massive costs, massive salaries for chief executives, complete lack of accountability back to the people of the city, I’m strongly against what’s proposed here.”

Councillor Sam MacDonald was scathing of the reforms saying it showed “how fundamentally flawed this model really is. I think what’s really alarming with this is that there’s been a range of advertisers, millions of dollars spent on consultants. The government doesn’t understand how councils operate.”

He said “they don’t respect local democracy, and they don’t want to look at other options, and I think that should alarm every person in Christchurch. It’s a real threat to I think the way in which we operate.”

“I’ve never seen a country more united in opposition to reforms that have been forced upon them, or the propaganda that’s been put forward and the peddling of information that can’t be validated.”

Councillor James Gough said “the content of the government’s three waters proposal demonstrates a total disregard for the fundamental principles of democracy, and what it suggests is blatant asset theft.”

“A Ministry of Health Report shows almost 97% of the New Zealand population is receiving the drinking water from a fully compliant, water supply, they’re not drinking sludge, like the condescending advertisement suggests. We’re simply being lied to, I don’t appreciate that, and neither do our residents.”

Gough said “if this proposal progresses in its current form, then the government will have a revolution on its hands.”

Councillor Sara Templeton said the government has misread community sentiment on water across the country.

“I think that they thought that as long as the outcome would be cheaper for everyone, then there was a selling point that would get everything across the line and it’s clearly not the case. Our communities value, the ability to prioritise projects that involve water, and they value the accountability that comes with having elected representatives to be able to hold to account.”

Councillor Aaron Keown said “these are very dark days for New Zealand, for our history, when it comes to taking away something the size of water.”

“When you look at the way that the current government can get away with things while that populations are punch drunk on COVID. When you look at the reforms of the polytechnics, you look at the health reforms, housing prices have gone up, and housings is even more scarce than ever. Taking over water should scare the hell out of every single New Zealand, because there won’t be efficiencies of scale, it will cost a fortune.”

The Christchurch City Council will provide feedback to the Governement saying “overall, we lack confidence in the Government’s process to date. Insufficient and superficial engagement with councils has exposed a lack of understanding within the Government of the complexity of local water services delivery that we believe has resulted in the reform process being fraught at best and a likelihood of failure to progress beyond this current phase. There needs to be commitment from all parties to work together to achieve successful transformation, rather than the ‘take it or we will impose it’ approach to date. We look forward to a reset after which DIA and the Government engage properly with councils and communities and partner in exploring genuine options.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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