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National’s water U-turn will drive up New Zealanders’ rates bills

The National Party’s U-turn on water reform has left local councils high and dry and will drive up Kiwi’s rates bills, Labour Party Local Government Spokesperson Kieran McAnulty says.

“The National Party said they’ll repeal Affordable Water legislation in their first 100 days and step in financially if Councils can’t cover the costs of water infrastructure upgrades. But Friday’s fiscal plan allocated no money to do that,” Kieran McAnulty said.

“National has made no provision of funding for their promised ‘step-ins’ when a Council can’t meet the investment by themselves.

“With no support from Government and no economies of scale from Labour’s affordable water reforms big rates increase are inevitable.

“Government support for local council infrastructure is treated as operational expenditure not capital, so would have needed an allocation in the fiscal plan. There wasn’t one.

“This is a big U-turn from National and explains why they’ve taken down their anti water reforms billboards around the country.

“Councils have been left high and dry and will now have to hike New Zealanders rates bills to cover the $185 billion bill for water infrastructure over the next 30 years.

“On Friday a senior Auckland Council source was reported in the Herald saying water bills could rise by more than 20 per cent.

“In contrast Labour’s plan will save Aucklanders a lot of money. The establishment of an Auckland and Northland water entity will avoid the doubling of water bills that are projected in Auckland, and balance sheet separation will take pressure off Auckland’s rates bills too.

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“National’s ideological opposition to affordable water reform means rate payers could face the worst of all worlds – increased rates, crumbling pipes, unsafe water and no long-term plan to fix things.

“The National Party made promises to ratepayers they cannot keep, and now their gift is rates bills New Zealanders can’t afford.

“This is a broken promise and yet another multi-billion dollar hole in National’s fiscals that will leave New Zealanders worse off,” Kieran McAnulty said.

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