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South Waikato Mayor Gary Petley Statement On Three Waters

“As Mayor of the South Waikato, I applaud the Mayors of Auckland City, Christchurch and Waimakariri for bringing this further option to the discussion,” said Mayor Gary Petley today.

South Waikato District Mayor Petley is in full support of starting a new constructive conversation to achieve a consensus approach across the country.

“The new proposal maintains the critical role of Taumata Arowai which the South Waikato has always advocated for. But importantly it retains local ownership and control, while allowing for tangata whenua involvement,” said Mayor Petley. “I want to learn more about this new proposal so I can canvass the proposal with my Councillors.”

“The proposal will remove Council’s ownership, management, control and accountability of the three waters. Our people will lose their local voice on our priorities for the future. We’re a relatively small district. The priorities for our people and our district - so that we can rise to the challenges of the future, may not be top priorities of the combined 22 councils in the proposed Entity B.”

Mayor Petley says any proposal that improves the fundamental principle of local democracy is worth having a closer look at.

He said that the South Waikato, like many districts, is trying to find its way through this reform amid a lack of information.

“Our community has questions that we can’t answer because we have the same questions. We don’t know what future three water bills are going to cost our people. We don’t know how the new management of three waters infrastructure is going to integrate with other activities of councils such as roading and drainage assets necessary for large scale development. We don’t know how our voice is going to be heard,” he said. “We have even more questions for our rural communities.”

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“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent,” said Mayor Petley. “The existing proposal introduces layer after layer of committee structure which pose a very real danger of rendering both governance and management completely dysfunctional.

“Hopefully, things haven’t gone too far for us to amend the proposal with something that will be fit for purpose, provide for local voice, retain ownership where it should be and protect against privatisation.”

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