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Worrying implication for property rights as Government forces through Three Waters reform

Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori says Government plans to force through water reforms virtually unchanged is a worrying attack on property rights and community voice. As a member of Communities 4 Local Democracy, Matamata-Piako District Council shares the same concerns.

The changes embed an unusual public shareholding model, where shareholders would have no rights other than the ability deciding to privatise services or not.

They also propose another level of complexity in governance, taking most councils even further away from a position of influence.

C4LD Chair and Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys said that despite some tinkering around the edges it didn’t make the model itself any more palatable for communities.

“This is a dark day for local democracy as the Government has continued to force this reform through without the consent of its stakeholders or their communities.

“We could not be more disappointed that the Government has rejected an opportunity to reach a bi-partisan agreement that would deliver what they wanted, electing to press on with their reform based on faulty assumptions and flawed analysis.

“Adding a Claytons shareholding for councils, that confers none of the normal benefits or obligations of ownership, does nothing to remove our real worries about community property rights and local voice.

“For us to hand over millions of dollars of assets our communities have paid for in return for a single share of no real value is absolutely absurd.

“If the Government can decide by decree to redefine ownership in this way it sets a worrying precedent over ownership on a far wider basis.”

The group has also condemned the further watering down of community input, which will particularly effect small councils.

“The model was already significantly flawed in allowing for any real influence from councils. With the new sub-regional groups it’s likely the voice and influence of smaller councils will be even more reduced,” she said.

“For many councils they’ll moved from being two steps away from the decision makers to three.

“Our model has shown how the outcomes of the reform can be delivered while ensuring the efficiencies of collaboration and balance sheet separation, but while still protecting local voice and community property rights.

“While we’re disappointed in this initial version of the legislation, we’re committed to working to get a better model in place that works for everyone.

“We’d urge everyone to get in touch with their local MPs to ensure they know what you think about this plan, and we’ll be encouraging significant local participation in the select committee process.”

For more information about Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mo te Manapori and its framework for better three waters reform that everyone can support, visit