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Hamilton Says Changes Needed In Reform Plans

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the next steps in Government’s Three Waters Reform programme. The Minister confirmed a transition to new structures by July 2024 and the establishment of a working group with councils to reach agreement on governance structures and ensure local views are represented. Hamilton would be part of a central North Island entity involving 22 councils in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, and parts of Manawatu-Whanganui.

Mayor Paula Southgate says Hamilton’s feedback to Government earlier this month was that it did not support the proposals as they stand.

“This is the Government’s reform, not ours, but we need big changes before this plan is acceptable to us. Any reform needs to be done in a way that works for our city and our ratepayers and I’ll be fighting to make that happen.”

“Our Council has raised strong concerns about consultation, ownership of assets and the retention of a local voice. Council has demanded ironclad protections against privatisation. These issues need to be addressed,” Mayor Southgate said.

Minister Mahuta today announced a working party will be established to refine governance, representation and accountability in the reform.

“Along with my Council I have fought to ensure Hamiltonians can have a say in this reform programme. I will be working with Council to see how we can support our residents and ratepayers to get their views to Government,” Mayor Southgate said.

Mayor Southgate said Hamilton’s waters staff do a brilliant job and data shows Hamilton is among the best in the country in terms of our three waters performance. But, she adds, there are future costs which will need addressing.

“Meeting new regulations, maintaining, and improving our services, delivering on climate change, and making the environmental improvements our community wants are big challenges. We have to find new ways of managing our assets to reduce these costs for our people. Hamilton has explored regional initiatives in the past to deliver benefits for our residents, including new ways to manage water services more efficiently."

“Expert analysis has shown this reform will halve the future costs of water services for Hamiltonians, but this is not just about the money. We’ve said Government needs to make some changes and I will be demanding those changes are made,” Mayor Southgate said.

The announcement included release of supporting material and a timeline for public consultation. Mayor Southgate says it will take time for Council to consider the detail of the Government’s programme and consider its next steps.

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