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Government Goals Supported But More Detail Needed

Hamilton City Councillors are seeking more information on governance arrangements, financial detail and community engagement around the government’s proposed water reforms.

Councils throughout New Zealand are currently in an eight-week review period (ending 1 October 2021) to understand localised effects of the developing proposals, evaluate the data and provide feedback to Government.

Mayor Paula Southgate says today’s Council meeting showed all councillors wanted the best outcomes for Hamilton but wanted a much clearer picture of the proposed reform benefits to share with their communities.

“We are facing some massive decisions around water that will impact upon generations,” Mayor Southgate said.

“I personally believe there is a strong economic case for reform, but we need all the facts before we can properly discuss a final proposal with our communities. We’re not there yet, we all have a lot of questions as do people in the community, ” Southgate said.

“This is the Government’s reform – not ours. So importantly, we need Government to lay out the rationale for their proposal in a way our communities can understand and provide their views on.”

She stressed Council had still not been asked to make a decision on any specific proposal as government was still developing the shape of the reform structures.

“But let’s not wait. While we analyse information over the next eight weeks, I’m keen to engage our community with the information we already have. So I have asked staff to develop an engagement approach so we can go out and proactively gauge views and understand concerns.”

A final document, capturing the Council’s formal view, will be developed during the eight-week period and be considered by Council on 30 September 2020.

At today’s meeting, Council discussed its position in relation to the reform process, debating the benefits of continuing its stated support of the intent and direction of the reform, or taking a more neutral position. Two resolutions were voted on, with the final unanimous position being:

Hamilton City Council supports the Government’s goals of ensuring safe, sustainable, and economically efficient delivery of three waters services but notes effective transition to any new structure must be in full and equitable partnership with local government.

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