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Open Letter To Auckland City Mayor John Banks

OPEN LETTER TO AUCKLAND CITY MAYOR JOHN BANKS

26 August 2004

The Water Pressure Group believes that you have denied us speaking rights at tonight's Auckland City Council meeting because you agree with Judge Joyce's decision :

"…….questions of reasonableness or fairness simply do not come into this."

"….if you want water and wastewater services from Metrowater then you must contract for them on their terms. Otherwise you risk going without."

This Judge has completely ignored the common law and commonsense fact that water is a vital necessity of life, and a basic human right upon which all other human rights are founded.

No water = no life.

Is it not true that you agree with Judge Joyce's decision?

Yes or no?

We also believe that you don't want the public to know how the Auckland City Council and Metrowater are colluding to rip off residents and ratepayers through overcharging and effective extortion, as the following facts expose.

That is also why we believe that you have denied speaking rights to the Water Pressure Group.

Please be advised that the Commerce Commission are interested in assessing a complaint about Metrowater's $1.88 per cubic metre 'passed on' Watercare charge for wastewater, (which Watercare DON'T charge) and which Judge Joyce ruled was 'irrelevant'.

THE FACTS THAT YOU, MAYOR JOHN BANKS, APPARENTLY DON'T WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW AND ARE TRYING TO COVER UP BY DENYING THE WPG SPEAKING RIGHTS!

1) That Metrowater has gifted back to Auckland City Council $12.1 million in charitable payments.

('Charitable' payments - back to Council - when families can't afford to pay Metrowater's bills?)

2) That $5 million of that $12.1 million is to be used for stormwater work, when under Metrowater's 'contract', stormwater is specifically excluded from their 'contract'.

A matter for the Serious Fraud Office?

3) That under Metrowater's Statement of Corporate Intent, costs to the 'customer' are supposed to be kept to a minimum.

4) That under Metrowater's Statement of Corporate Intent, Metrowater is prohibited from paying a dividend to its shareholder (ie: Auckland City Council).

5) That the Commerce Commission is currently assessing a complaint of misleading advertising against Metrowater, under the Fair Trading Act, on the basis that it claimed it was providing 'A' grade water at a time it was not.

6) That for nearly two years, Metrowater was providing 'ungraded water' for nearly 95% of households in Auckland City - the sole exception being Onehunga, who did not receive water mixed with 'ungraded' treated Waikato river water.

7) That Metrowater's claimed Watercare wastewater charge of $1.88 per cubic metre on their bill is neither true or accurate, because "Watercare does not directly charge Metrowater customers for wholesale wastewater charges."

[OIA reply from Metrowater's Chief Financial Officer Susan Putt 26 September 2003.]

8) That a household in Manukau City using 250 cubic metres of water per year in 2002 -2003 for wastewater paid $289.56

That a household in Auckland City using 250 cubic metres of water per year in 2002 -2003 for wastewater paid $556.88

That a household in Manukau City using 500 cubic metres of water per year in 2002 -2003 for wastewater paid $289.56

That a household in Auckland City using 500 cubic metres of water per year in 2002 -2003 for wastewater paid $1053.75

YET WATERCARE CHARGED ON THE SAME BASIS FOR WASTEWATER TO BOTH MANUKAU WATER AND METROWATER!

9) Where else are we supposed to get our water services from? There is no 'commercially competitive regime' for water services in Auckland City, (as of course should be the case, as water is a 'natural monopoly' - and there should sensibly only be one set of pipes bringing water to the home and one set of pipes removing the wastewater.)

10) That Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council and Waitakere City Council, now no longer restrict water supplies for non-payment of bills, because of changes to the Local Government Act 2002, and Local Government Rating Act 2002 - but Metrowater continue to do so, under the same legislation.

Thus, Auckland City Council is NOT protecting Auckland City residents and ratepayers' basic human right to water as citizens have protected under Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council and Waitakere City Council Councils.

11)Water is now internationally recognised as a basic human right.

“UNITED NATIONS COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

General Comment No. 15 (2002) The right to water (Articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights) 26 November 2002.

1) Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health.

The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.

It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights."

The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.

8. Environmental hygiene, as an aspect of the right to health under article 12(2)(b) of the Covenant, encompasses taking steps on a non-discriminatory basis to prevent threats to health from unsafe and toxic water conditions. For example, States parties should ensure that natural water resources are protected from contamination by harmful substances and pathogenic microbes.

The right to water contains both freedoms and entitlements. The freedoms include the right to maintain access to existing water supplies necessary for the right to water, and the right to be free from interference, such as the right to be free from arbitrary disconnections or contamination of water supplies.

The elements of the right to water must be adequate for human dignity, life and health, in accordance with Articles 11(1) and 12. The adequacy of water should not be interpreted narrowly, by mere reference to volumetric quantities and technologies. Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good.

27…. Any payment for water services has to be based on the principle of equity, ensuring that these services, whether privately or publicly provided, are affordable for all, including socially disadvantaged groups.

Equity demands that poorer households should not be disproportionately burdened with water expenses as compared to richer households.”

Metrowater's crippling 'ripoff' user-charges ARE disproportionally burdening poorer households.

Many families are paying as much if not more for their water services charges than their rates? Where is the 'equity' in that?

12) The Water Pressure Group has lodged a Judicial Complaint against Judge Joyce to have him removed from the Bench because we believe that the public can have no confidence in the callibre of such Judges whose decisions continue to show, in our honestly held opinion - a repeated lack of honesty, integrity, impartiality, fairness and consistency.

13)The Minster of Justice has been sent an 'Open Letter' requesting an immediate answer -

Does the statute law of parliament have the right to override the common law rights of the people.

yes, or no?

"Please be advised that until you as Minister of Justice can state (with proof of your authority to so do) that the statute law of Parliament can override the common law rights - the basic human rights of the people - then Water Pressure Group (Auckland) members will be having their cases withdrawn from the Court because the jurisdiction of the Court is therefore in question."

14) In summary, the Auckland City Council, of which you are Mayor, is using Metrowater as an out-of-control 'cash cow', crippling large low- income families who NEED to use more water, and effectively demanding money with menace by threatening to cut off water supplies to those who can't or won't pay Metrowater's 'ripoff' charges.

15) The Water Pressure Group want water services publicly owned, operated and managed as essential public services. We want Metrowater abolished, and an end to fixed and user-pays for water and wastewater services.

We want payment for water services back under property-based rates, so that the community cost of providing these essential public services is more equitably and proportionally shared on the basis of ability to pay.

We do NOT want one big Auckland water company (ie Watercare taking over the retail as well as wholesale water services supplies) which multi-national consortium United Water (based in Papakura) can then privatise through a Public-Private-Partnership, a long term contract to operate and manage water services for private profit.

16) Water Pressure Group Auckland members simply will NOT pay these disputed, 'ripoff' Metrowater bills and call on thousands of households in Auckland City to join the boycott!

Ignore that!

Penny Bright Media Spokesperson Water Pressure Group (Auckland)


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