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WPG sends questionnaire to political parties

Press Release From Water Pressure Group 20 June 2002

Water Pressure Group sends questionnaire to political parties on water services - Waikato water, PPPs and GATS key questions!

WATER PRESSURE GROUP SURVEY OF POLITICAL PARTIES ON THE PROVISION OF WATER / WASTEWATER SERVICES AND RELATED ISSUES FOR THE 2002 GENERAL ELECTION:

1. Does your Party agree that water should be treated as a saleable commodity to be sold as an economic good and traded for commercial purposes and thus stay under the Commerce Act?
YES NO

2. Does your Party agree that water is a commons – a fundamental human right, essential to life, to which every person is entitled, and thus should be taken out from under the Commerce Act?
YES NO

3. Does your Party agree that water services are essential public services and should be owned, operated and managed by Councils, under the direct democratic control of elected Council representatives, and run on a non-profit making basis?
YES NO

4. Does your Party agree that water services should be operated and managed as profit-making businesses while under Council ownership ie: commercialised – whether the name of such a Council owned entity be a Local Authority Trading Enterprise (LATE), a ‘Council-controlled business’ or any other such name given to cover such a commercialised entity?
YES NO

5. Does your Party agree that water services should be operated and managed under a public-private-partnership, where Councils still own the water services infrastructural assets, but the operation and management is in the hands of a privately-owned ‘for-profit’ water company?
YES NO

6. Does your Party agree that the franchise agreement between the Papakura District Council (PDC) and United Water is such a public- private-partnership where the PDC still owns the water services infrastructural assets but their management and operation is in the hands of a consortium of two of the largest water multinational companies in the world – Vivendi and RWE?
YES NO

7. Does your Party agree that public-private-partnerships are also known as ‘franchising’, ‘concessions’ and ‘contracting out’?
YES NO

8. Does your Party agree that public-private-partnerships are a form of privatisation?
YES NO

9. Does your Party agree that water services should be owned, operated and managed by the private sector?
YES NO

10. Does your Party agree NOT to support any changes at central government level which would give local bodies greater power or ability to commercialise, privatise in any form including PPPs (contracting out), of essential public services such as water?
YES NO

11. Does your Party agree to initiate and/or support any changes at Central Government level which would reverse any existing commercialisation, privatisation (including contracting out) of essential services such as water / wastewater?
YES NO

12. Does your Party agree to initiate and/or support the removal of water services from LATE legislation?
YES NO

13. Does your Party agree to initiate and/or support public- public-partnerships,such as, where central government gives financial assistance such as low interest loans to local government for water services infrastructure?
YES NO

14. Does your Party agree that user charges for essential services puts the burden on those least able to pay?
YES NO

15. Does your Party agree with the principle that those who own higher-value properties should contribute proportionally more towards infrastructure costs through general property taxes (rates)?
YES NO

16. Does your Party agree NOT to support any legislative changes at central government level that would give Councils greater power to charge for water services on a fixed (Uniform Annual Charge or Uniform Annual General Charge) user pays or any other method of funding which moves away from property- based rates?
YES NO

17. Does your Party agree with the principle that commercialisation of water services works against the conservation of water because if water services are set up to profit from selling water as a commodity then the last thing commercialised or privatised water companies want is for people to use less?
YES NO

18. Does your Party agree with and have policies - other than punitive user charges which make water unaffordable to people who NEED to use more – to encourage water conservation to avoid massive future infrastructural costs? Please detail these policies.
YES NO

19. Does your Party agree that public accountability and democratic traditions are diminished when when public assets are commercialised or privatised?
YES NO

20. Does your party agree to initiate and/or support legislative change that will make it illegal to restrict or disconnect for non- payment of water services bills as in the UK Water Industry Act 1999?
YES NO

21. Specific questions relating to the Waikato pipeline:

a) Does your Party support the precautionary principle that the future risk to public health is minimised by using ‘best raw water first’ for drinking water supplies?
YES NO

b) Does your Party acknowledge that for Watercare to say that treated Waikato river water will be safe to drink, means that it will comply with or better New Zealand Drinking Water Standards, and thus does not minimise the risk to public health, because NZDWS 2000 only measure 137 of the thousands of bugs and chemicals that flow into the Waikato river from factory effluent, leaching landfills, agricultural chemicals, road pollutant runoff and sewerage outflows?
YES NO

c) Does your Party agree that the short and long term health risks to people of the Auckland region from drinking Waikato river water as a raw source of drinking water should be assessed, managed and minimised?
YES NO

d) Does your Party agree that evidence of such public health risk assessment, management and minimisation should be available from the drinking water suppliers; ‘wholesalers’Watercare services; ‘retailers’ the Line Network Operators; Local Authorities, and Medical Officers for Health in the Auckland region who have statutory duties for public health?
YES NO

e) Does your party agree that decisions that have major implications for public health (namely the signing of the Watercare bulk water supply contract )should be made by a LATE (namely Metrowater Ltd) that apparently has no statutory duties for public health?
YES NO

f) Will your Party initiate and/or support action to ensure that the future risk to public health is minimised by use of ‘best raw water first’ for drinking water supplies? If YES – what are you prepared to do?
YES NO

g) Will your party support the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill , that intends to make it mandatory for drinking water suppliers to produce Public Health Risk Management Plans, (to prevent contaminants entering the ‘raw’ water supplies in the first place) being given the most urgent priority in the completion of its drafting, introduction and passage?
YES NO

22. Specific questions relating to The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS):

In 1994 the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was adopted as part of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, which also created the the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to enforce such agreements.

New Zealand is one of the 144 countries in the WTO, and every country in the WTO will be subject to the GATS once/if it is adopted. “Liberalisation” has the aim of opening services to market forces, under the WTO.

Economic sanctions and other remedies would be available to the WTO, and corporations, if, for example governments (central or local) discriminated in favour of their domestic service suppliers to the detriment of foreign suppliers of those services.

a) Does your Party agree that “liberalisation” as expressed above, is in fact privatisation?
YES NO

b) Does your Party agree that public services such as water services should be “liberalised” ie: opened up to takeover by multinational water corporations?
YES NO

c) Does your party agree that it will NOT sign any GATS commitments for Environmental Services?
YES NO

d) Does your party acknowledge that if the supply of water is entrenched as a commercial activity under the Commerce Act that makes it easier for water services to be privatised under the GATS?
YES NO

e) Does your Party agree that municipalities (local authorities) should be bound by international legal agreements entered into by the New Zealand Government that are not enacted as domestic law in New Zealand?
YES NO

23) Is your Party prepared to initiate and/or support legislation that will make it illegal for politicians (both at central and local government level) to knowingly misrepresent their policies to the public at any time during an election campaign?
YES NO

24) Does your Party agree that those responsible for conducting elections at both central and local government level should have to be knowledgeable of the law and the duties that it is their statutory responsibility to enact?
YES NO

The Water Pressure Group will publicise the results of this questionnaire as a guide to the voting public. Your reply will be taken as representing the policy of your Party.

Please feel free to add comments or further notes of explanation to supplement your “YES” or “NO” answer.

The Water Pressure Group is holding a public meeting for political parties to explain and be questioned on your policies for water services on Wednesday 3 July 2002 7.30 pm at the Fickling Centre 3 Kings.

If your party wishes to be represented at this meeting we need your answers to this questionnaire by 6.00pm Tuesday 25 June 2002.

Please send to: The Water Pressure Group, PO Box 19764 Avondale Auckland. Thank you.

On behalf of the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) Penny Bright Media Spokesperson.


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