Picket 'Flushes Out' Sandra Lee On Water!
Our picket outside the Minister of Local Government, Sandra Lee's electoral office was successful in flushing out a response.
A letter from the Water Pressure Group was handed to her Electoral Secretary, stating as follows:
"OPEN LETTER TO SANDRA LEE – MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
25 January 2002
We are protesting outside your electoral office today to draw attention to treacherous sellout on water privatisation that your Local Government Bill represents.
In its present form - the Local Government Bill represents a breach of promises made by both the Labour and Alliance parties on water services before the 1999 General Election. (A copy of the Alliance policy on water services as stated in reply to the Water Pressure Group’s survey of political parties before the 1999 General election is attached to this letter.)
We demand that the Local Government Bill is amended to make it 'water-tight' against water privatisation including public-private- partnerships for water services as already exist in Auckland with the Papakura District Council 'franchise' with United Water. (A consortium of two of the world's biggest multi-national water corporations, Vivendi and RWE).
We again demand that you, Sandra Lee, Minster for Local Government answer our straight-forward question, first asked nearly one year ago on 30 January 2002, but using the words ‘franchise’ rather than public-private-partnership:
"Is the Papakura public-private-partnership with United Water a form of privatisation YES or NO?"
We want to know why you are promoting legislation which would allow water services for the Auckland region to be combined, then taken over by multinational water companies, such as United Water, in a public-private-partnership.
Why are you misleading the public by claiming that the Local Government Bill has safeguards to stop water privatisation when the opposite is the case?
Why are you effectively working together with John Banks and Auckland City’s minority local government, who, as outlined in the Birch Report, are recommending investigating public-private- partnerships for both Metrowater and Watercare?
Is that why you haven’t come out against these proposals in the Birch Report? Because you are helping to legislate for such public-private- partnerships to occur in the Auckland region?
Beware Sandra Lee – this is election year, and the Water Pressure Group is merciless on sellouts.
You have a background as an experienced local body politician. We cannot believe that you don’t really know that your Local Government bill is setting up for public-private-partnerships for water services.
This Local Government Bill, as currently worded represents a clear breach of Alliance policy on water services. Politicians who break their promises do not deserve to be re-elected. We will be calling on all the honest Alliance members and politicians to make sure this legislation is amended to be ‘watertight’ against water privatisation, or the price will be paid at election time."
Sandra Lee made a press statement today, as follows:
"LOCAL-WATER: ALLIANCE TO FIGHT MOVES AGAINST BAN
ON WATER PRIVATISATION WELLINGTON
Jan 25 Alliance minister Sandra Lee says her party has drawn a line in the sand over privatising water supplies and will not allow government proposals to be weakened.
The local government minister last month introduced new laws to Parliament that ban privatisation of local body water supplies and wastewater services.
The legislation is being considered by a parliamentary committee of MPs and Ms Lee said while she did not want to pre-empt the committee's recommendations it is only fair to signal the Alliance is drawing a line in the sand on this issue.
"I said on the introduction of the Local Government Bill 2001 last month that access to water is not a commodity but a fundamental human right," Ms Lee said in a statement today. She had been advised submissions were being made to soften up or remove the anti-privatisation measures in the bill but the Alliance would vigorously oppose any moves to do that...."
The Alliance does indeed have a line in the sand on this issue. Sandra Lee is on the wrong side of that line.
The Alliance stated before the 1999 General Election in answer to the Water Pressure Group's "Survey of Political Parties on the provision of Water/Wastewater
WPG Question 2:
"Does your party consider that the way in which water and wastewater systems are funded and managed in New Zealand needs to be restructured, and if so, broadly along what lines, and why?"
"The Alliance holds that water and wastewater systems should be owned and operated by local authorities. An Alliance government will make low interest loans available to local government for the establishment and upgrading of local infrastructure such as water supply and wastewater treatment."
Water Pressure Group Question 3:
"Does your party intend to support any changes at central government level which would give local bodies greater power or ability to commercialise, privatise, or contract out essential services such as water?"
"The Alliance will discourage the sale or further privatisation of utilities or other strategic assets held by local government. Legislation which requires or encourages the sale of local assets, their contracting out, or their setting up in forms which makes them ripe for sale will be repealed."
Sandra Lee's Local Government Bill, allows the contracting out, (otherwise known as 'franchising' or 'public-private-partnership') of water services, in total contradiction to Alliance stated policy.
Please Sandra and your 'spin-doctors' - don't treat us as illiterate fools!
The best thing to do is for people to read the relevant section of the Local Government Bill themselves. Pgs 75 and 76.
Read this section and decide for yourselves who is telling the truth on this issue - Sandra Lee, Minister for Local Government - or the Water Pressure Group?
For your information, pages 75 and 76 of the Local Government Bill are reprinted below: Please look particularly carefully at section (3).
"LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILL
Restrictions on exiting from certain services
Restrictions on exit from delivery of water supply and wastewater services
(1) A territorial authority that provides, at the commencement of this section, water supply and wastewater services within its district must continue to do so and must maintain its capacity to do so.
(2) A territorial authority must not --
transfer ownership or control to a person that is not a council-controlled organisation of significant assets involved in providing water supply and wastewater services; or 75
Part 7 cl 129
(b) divest to another person that is not a council-controlled organisation any significant asset that is owned by the territorial authority or a council-controlled organisation and that is involved in providing water supply and wastewater services; or
(c) divest to another person that is not a council-controlled organisation any ownership or interest in a council -controlled organisation that is involved in providing water supply and wastewater services.
(3) This section does not prevent- -
(a) the sale or divesting of assets that are no longer required to maintain the capacity to provide water supply and wastewater services; or
(b) contracts for the management of parts of the system for water supply or wastewater services if -
(i) the contract is not for the management of the system as a whole; or
(ii) the contract is for the management of the system as a whole, but not for a term longer than 15 years; or
(c) a joint venture for the construction or management of reticulated water supply, sewerage, or sewage treatment networks if the ownership of the assets remains with the territorial authority; or
(d) 2 or more territorial authorities or council-controlled organisations arranging to combine the management and operation of services for reticulated water supply, sewerage, or sewage treatment.
(4) In this section,-
wastewater services includes sewerage, sewage treatment, and stormwater drainage
water supply means the supply of drinking water to households and businesses." Pg 76