The Taxpayers’ Union is joining elected officials across New Zealand in calling out LGNZ’s public misinformation campaign on the Government’s proposed “Three Waters” proposals to nationalise community assets into four ‘co-governed’ water entities. The Union is highlighting how an opinion piece published on Stuff this morning by LGNZ President Stuart Crosby on the proposals failed to disclose the funds received by LGNZ to promote Three Waters reform.
“LGNZ is a ratepayer-funded lobby group, which has literally sold out its independence to the Government in a ‘heads-of-agreement’ to support Nanaia Mahuta’s reforms,” says Jordan Williams, a Taxpayers’ Union spokesman.
“Once again LGNZ’s ethics need to be called into question, providing a pro-reform opinion piece to Stuff despite most councils having expressed opposition or concern about the reforms. The opinion piece does not disclose the funding from the Government, and bizarrely states that LGNZ has ‘tended to stay on the sidelines of public debate about Three Waters reforms’ when it is explicitly tasked itself with promoting the Government’s reform programme.”
“LGNZ is broken, misleading the public, and totally unaccountable to ratepayers. This isn’t the first time they’ve been dishonest. The previous President of LGNZ paid $10,000 for making a dishonest claim about the Taxpayers’ Union. For the successor to now claim others are guilty of misinformation, while failing to disclose LGNZ’s interests in the same article shows how rotten this organisation has become. No wonder some councils are now voting to cancel their membership and looking to start a new organisation to represent them.”
“At the very least LGNZ should represent its council members, not be a sock puppet for the Government.”
Notes to editors:
The Heads of Agreement between LGNZ and the Crown explicitly states, The Crown is proposing to provide ongoing support to LGNZ, by way of separate funding agreement(s) with LGNZ … to enable LGNZ to build support within the local government sector for the Three Waters Reform Programme. [Page 9]
Despite being ratepayer (and now taxpayer) funded, LGNZ is not subject to freedom of information laws. LGNZ is deemed not to be a “council controlled organisation” meaning that it does not have to appear in every council’s financial statements. Due to a legislative mistake going back decades, this also means the organisation is not covered by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. The Taxpayers’ Union has for many years called for this to be fixed.