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Auckland Water Review "Alarming" For North Shore

From Jim Gladwin...

Auckland Regional Water Review - "ALARMING" FOR NORTH SHORE COUNCILLORS

The Auckland Regional Water Review moves inexorably on toward commercialisation - and a regime which will introduce user charges to replace taxes (rates) - to reward the wealthy and thump the working class and ordinary folk.

And the outcome will take us one step closer to the privatisation of our most essential public services.

____________________

"FINAL DRAFT" STAGE REACHED

A "Final Draft" of the Auckland Regional Water Review Stakeholders' Forum was sent to all councils on Tues 12 September.

It contains a very interesting passage - particularly in the light of the on-going High Court case of Metrowater v/s Penny Bright and myself.

That section reads:

• THERE HAVE BEEN SOME POSITIVE STEPS BEING TAKEN BY SOME OPERATORS. . . . . METROWATER AND UNITED WATER BOTH HAVE CUSTOMER CONTRACTS.

• HOWEVER, THESE CONTRACTS ARE NOT NEGOTIATED WITH INDIVIDUAL CUSTOMERS. IN ADDITION, RETAIL CONTRACTS MAY NOT BE ENFORCEABLE UNDER CURRENT CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION, WHICH APPEARS TO PROVIDE WATER, WASTEWATER AND STORM WATER CONSUMERS WITH FEWER RIGHTS THAN CONSUMERS OF OTHERS SERVICES. THIS LACK OF MARKET POWER IS EXACERBATED BY THE LACK OF COMPETITION AND CHOICE, AND THE FACT THAT WATER SERVICES ARE ESSENTIAL TO CUSTOMERS. ____________________

ERNST & YOUNG

The review is being overseen by Ernst & Young

______"Ernst & Young LLP is one of the world's leading professional services organizations. We are creative catalysts who join forces with clients to do all it takes - from thought to finish - to achieve positive, significant change."

_______ from Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference - ABIC 2000 - Toronto, June 2000 http://www.abic.net/

A branch of that same company currently stands exposed for plagiarising and faking a major impact report for an Indian dam project: http://web.estart.com/~esg/

____________________

PRIVATISED INTERESTS PROTECTED

Remember, the interests of all "stakeholders" are being protected in this review - that includes United Water International Pty Limited - the privatisers of Papakura. At the 1998 International Public Management Network Conference in Oregon, USA, June Pallot, Professor, Department of Accounting, Finance and Information Systems, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, described the Papakura franchise deal as follows:

"Papakura District Council adopted a fairly extreme "market" model. It has franchised a large number of its services ranging from water supply to library services and has drawn considerable praise from the Business Roundtable and consultancy firms for the reduction in taxes (replaced, of course, by private sector user charges) which has resulted. The process of implementing these policies was, however, highly undemocratic and still resented by the local residents." http://www.willamette.org/ipmn/news/spring98.htm

In my opinion, the "surprise" 4 September resignation of Mayor David Hawkins, and his subsequent entry into a Watercare Services Ltd senior management position as liaison officer for local and central government, sees him well placed to help broker United Water into the wider regional arena.

____________________

SPECIAL ROLE FOR PAPAKURA COUNCIL

Given that the upcoming Local Government Review will almost certainly see the demise of the Papakura District Council, the best legacy the current Papakura Council can leave its constituents - and citizens throughout the region - would be for them to annul their contract with the multi-national consortium United Water as soon as possible, and return Papakura's water services to stable, democratic management on a non-commercial basis.

This week, United Water is still owned by two companies - Generale des Eaux (Vivendi) and Thames Water.

Vivendi, the massive French utility company, is on the brink of a major shift away from providing environment and water services in favour of becoming a telecommunications and media services company. Financial Times UK 16/6/00

Thames has announced that it is in advanced discussions regarding a recommended cash offer of buyout. Industry commentators are fairly unanimous in speculating that Thames' suitor is the German utility RWE. e.water issue: 405, 25 Sep 2000 "alphabet online ltd"

____________________

CONSUMERS' FOCUS GROUPS

Meanwhile, the focus group of residential consumers is right now being conducted for the regional water review, by the same consultant which produced in August, a report wherein North Shore citizens purportedly favour water/wastewater tariffs virtually identical to Metrowater's harsh charging for Auckland City. The selected participants in their North Shore focus group were apparently paid "expenses' of $600 each.

The market research consultant that facilitated the dubious North Shore water services customer advisory group was Ann Holway, Market Research Professional, telephone 630 7126. There was very strong public reaction the newspaper report:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,359527a1501,FF.html

____________________

BUILD CITIZENS RESISTANCE GROUPS NOW!

To oppose this state of affairs, Auckland City has the Water Pressure Group and Waitakere City has Citizens Against Privatisation –

http://homepages.go.com/~capwaitakere/index.html

People from other municipalities are urged to build fight-back organisations now. Contact me if you are ready, willing and able. We can offer assistance.

The review will be be effectively completed by the year's end - leaving only a "public consultation" exercise in 2001, before the grand plans are implemented. To wait until next year is to perpetuate the kiwi habits of leaving things until after the event - and of leaving problems for others - politicians, lawyers and spellbinders - to solve.

____________________

SOME GOOD NEWS FROM NORTH SHORE - FOUR COMMERCIAL OPTIONS

Included below is some positive news regarding some North Shore councillors. The article is worth reading as it outlines the four public "choices" favoured by the review team.

So far, hardly a whisper from Auckland, Manukau, Papakura, Rodney or Waitakere. Nor from the Infrastructure Auckland - or the Auckland Regional Council, those self-proclaimed "environmental guardians of the regions resources" who while reported to be the regulator for water services don't carry any mention of the water review on their website: http://www.arc.govt.nz/

Do any of your elected representatives actually know anything about the water review??? Why not try asking them - I have a fairly good list of email addresses for them . . . (and can help to provide further info in relation to any of the above).

In solidarity Jim Gladwin Water activist Ph/Fax 09 828 4517 PO Box 19233 Auckland 7

_________________________________

North Shore Times Advertiser

http://www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,438414a1501,FF.html

Councillors wary of water reforms 19 OCTOBER 2000 By DARYL McINTOSH Plans to reform Auckland's water supply so companies can compete like those in electricity are alarming North Shore City councillors.

They say the reforms may lead to problems such as those experienced by power consumers, such as price rises for small households. There are also fears it may open the door to privatisation.

Earlier this week the council's strategy and finance committee got a report into the Auckland water, wastewater and stormwater industry which contains four options for the future.

The report is the result of a commitment in November 1999 by Auckland councils to review water services. All the scenarios involve introducing some element of competition into the supply of water, stormwater and wastewater services.

One option, called common carriage, allows competing water retailers who could act in a similar way to power retail companies such as TransAlta and First Electric. They would deal directly with customers, for example sending them bills.

In this option, another organisation would own water pipes and other related assets.

All Auckland councils have been asked to endorse the further evaluation of the four scenarios. North Shore City did this, but also expressed its concern at the competitive elements.

Councillor Tony Holman says he is concerned the reforms open the door to privatisation of water.

Mr Holman says the theme in the options is that competition is essential in any changes made to the water industry.

"The gold of this millennium is water. All of the big international companies that can get hold of this (water companies) will do so. If we allow competitiveness in there they will go for the big profits.

"I say, 'Don't go there'."

Councillor Julia Parfitt says the scenarios are too limited because they all allow some competition, making it difficult to sell to the public.

The public has become cynical about reforms because it hasn't seen any savings from changes to areas like electricity, says Ms Parfitt.

Councillor Jenny Kirk says the options presented for the future of Auckland's water supply move it in the direction of allowing big international companies to take over the region's water.

Other options for Auckland's water include maintaining the status quo, but with more opportunity for competition and improvements to industry co-operation.

The third option would see the whole industry split into two companies, Northwest Water serving Rodney, North Shore and Waitakere and Southeast Water serving Auckland, Manukau and Papakura. The two would be competitive because comparisons would reveal how efficient they are.

The final option would see a single entity providing water services for the whole Auckland region.


If you have made it this far, thanks for your interest. Jim


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