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Greens keep water services in public hands

Greens keep water services in public hands

Keeping public control of New Zealand's water services is among key changes the Greens have secured to the Local Government Bill, Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"Under the bill as introduced, councils could not sell their water assets but could contract out the whole management of their water and wastewater systems for 15 years," said Jeanette. "Our changes mean that only the operation of plants can be contracted out while key decisions on pricing, water quality and water sources must remain with the council.

"At present, and under the bill as introduced, there is no restraint on public private partnerships (PPPs) for the delivery of water or wastewater services. We have secured changes to the bill that mean that private partners may not own the infrastructure at any stage and key policy decisions must remain with the council, as they do for contracting.

"Many New Zealanders contacted me during the course of the bill to voice their fears about the international agenda for water privatisation becoming even more established here. I believe we have prevented that from happening.

"The new conditions on private participation are even tighter than those we succeeded in getting for roads in the Land Transport Management Bill."

Jeanette is also pleased with changes she achieved to incorporate sustainable development into the bill, aligning us with the international movement established at the Rio Earth Summit and supporting councils that have adopted "Agenda 21" and "Triple Bottom Line" programmes.

"We have also made consultation processes more flexible, less prescriptive and required much earlier in the decision making process.

"We have included a requirement for councils to consider the community's views when defining problems and objectives; when identifying options and when developing proposals. This will ensure communities are included in the planning process at a much earlier stage, when they can have some real influence.

"There is also a requirement that councils listen with an open mind."

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