The Government’s recent announcement to push ahead with Three Waters, and creating ten new water entities instead of the previously announced four, is just another band-aid solution, says The Opportunities Party.
Leader of The Opportunities Party, Raf Manji, calls for the tap to be turned off on Three Waters citing some fundamental issues with the proposed water infrastructure plan have not yet been improved.
The shift towards a 10-entity structure is a move that tries to reconcile the opposition at a local government level, but as Manji points out, “we’re still concerned about the financial structure of the proposed new water entities.”
Manji continues to call for the Government to establish a Ministry of Water Works to develop a 30-year infrastructure plan to upgrade our water infrastructure creating economies of scale. The infrastructure plan would be funded by Central Government and iwi interests would be addressed at a local level. The Ministry of Water Works would also work closely with the newly established water regulator, Taumata Arowai.
Another contentious feature of the refreshed Three Waters proposal is the balance sheet separation which some opponents have described as asset theft. By establishing off-Crown balance sheet entities, the Government is simply shifting debt obligations, but increasing costs and introducing a higher risk profile. Local Government is being asked to move 30 percent or more of its balance sheet and transfer those assets to new and untested structures.
“Without a strategy for what the future of Local Government structures will look like, it’s just a highly risky proposition that doesn’t prepare for any future changes.”
The Opportunities Party believes that the Three Waters proposal needs to be urgently reconsidered. “If we want to ensure safe and clean drinking water and a wastewater system that works, we need to establish a cheaper, more secure and efficient funding model to oversee water infrastructure upgrades in New Zealand.”