Government Makes The Right Call On Three Waters Reform Programme
Infrastructure New Zealand supports the Government’s decision to progress the Three Waters Reform Programme given the status quo isn’t working and cannot continue.
Infrastructure New Zealand General Manager Claire Edmondson says, “The case for change is too strong to ignore, and it is disappointing the Government has had to mandate these reforms.”
Ms Edmondson states standalone entities owned by local government would result in better outcomes for New Zealand and New Zealanders.
She adds the Government has committed to include safeguards ensuring that communities will be the ultimate guardians of public ownership with any future proposal for privatisation requiring 75 percent of votes in favour in a public referendum.
“Over 20% of water supplies didn’t achieve full compliance with drinking water standards in the 2019-20 year, and over 34,000 New Zealanders are estimated to get sick from consuming substandard drinking water annually.
“There’s a massive existing Three Waters infrastructure deficit running into billions of dollars which shows the current system is failing New Zealanders.”
Ms Edmondson says Infrastructure New Zealand looks forward to the introduction of the Water Services Entities Bill to Parliament this December.
“The devil will be in the detail and Infrastructure New Zealand will be particularly interested in the entity design, especially the governance and accountability arrangements.”
Ms Edmondson says the select committee process will enable New Zealanders to voice their opinion on what they think of the four entities proposal and what changes need to be made.
“The proposed reforms anticipate reducing the burden on households which is always a good outcome, with the average cost being within a range of between $800 and $1640 depending on location, as compared to being between $1900 and $9000 over the next 30 years without reform,” says Ms Edmondson.
As New Zealand’s peak industry body for the infrastructure sector, Infrastructure New Zealand looks forward to partnering with the Government, local government, iwi and water experts to work through the next stages of the reform programme.
“New Zealand simply cannot run the risk of having events like the 2016 Havelock North water contamination event which made 5500 ill and hospitalised 45, with at least three New Zealanders likely losing their lives,” says Ms Edmondson.