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Govt contradicts itself on water privatisation

29 October 2009

Government contradicts itself on water privatisation

Statements from the Government on the issue of water privatisation are confusing and contradictory and give no assurance to the public that private interests won’t soon be profiting from the provision of water, the Green Party said today.

Green Party Co-leader and Russel Norman questioned Bill English in the House on the glaring contradiction between his assurance in May that “water assets will not be privatised” as a result of local government restructuring, and Rodney Hide’s announcement yesterday that water infrastructure will be opened up to private ownership.

“Rodney Hide’s announcement yesterday will allow private sector interests to build, own, and operate water infrastructure for 35 years at a time. That’s longer than the rest of Rodney’s lifetime. If that’s not privatisation, what is?” Dr Norman said.

“Bill English tried to claim that the only significant change to water infrastructure announced yesterday was to extend from 15 to 35 years the period that private firms can contract for water management.

“This is misleading and untrue. The type of arrangement where private interests can build, own, and operate water infrastructure is not permitted under the current law.

“This change is similar to reforms that preceded massive water privatisation under the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom 20 years ago. Those reforms are widely acknowledged to have been an abject failure.

“They resulted in homes having water cut off, people being poisoned by the water supply, and water companies being prosecuted hundreds of times for polluting the water supply.

“Bill English’s answers in the House today offered no reassurance that we are not heading down the same path in New Zealand, and did nothing to clarify the blatant contradiction between his statement and Rodney Hide’s proposed changes,” Dr Norman said.

References:

Transcript and video of Dr Norman’s question in the House: http://www.greens.org.nz/oralquestions/government-challenged-water-privatisation

Paper on the failure of water privatisation in the UK: http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/WaterChargesPamphlet/AWarningWaterPrivatisationInEnglandAndWales.html

ENDS

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