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WBOP Mayor joins Three Waters reform working group

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber. File photo/SunLive.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber has been appointed to the national working group tasked with resolving sticking points in Government’s Three Waters reform.

Mayor Garry joins 19 other local government and iwi representatives making up the working group established by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The working group’s role is to recommend strengthened governance and accountability arrangements for the Three Waters Reform Programme.

The working group formation follows Minister Mahuta announcing in October that Government will make its Three Waters reform mandatory for all councils, rejecting the option to make it voluntary.

The reform will see the management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred from 67 councils to four public-owned entities from July 1, 2024.

Webber says he is pleased to be selected on the working group featuring a cross section of big to small metropolitan, rural and provincial councils.

“I look forward to working with the other local government and iwi representatives to provide critical and carefully considered recommendations to inform the final entity design.

“At the end of the day our goal is to find solutions that are in the best interests of councils right across Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

Webber says it's important local councils such as Western Bay can shape the appropriate change having voiced serious concerns with Government’s draft reform proposal.

“As a Council we tried to be constructive in our feedback and so I think Government has taken note of this.”

The Working Group will report back to Government in March 2022, which ensures there is time for the advice and recommendations to inform the final entity design.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the working group on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement to the media, she says the working group is made up of local government and iwi representatives to recommend strengthened governance and accountability arrangements for the Three Waters Reform Programme.

“I recently announced that four water services entities would be established to ensure that all New Zealanders get safe, reliable and affordable water services,” says Mahuta.

“The feedback we heard from local government over the recent two-month engagement period raised a number of concerns about the proposed representation, governance and accountability arrangements for the new entities. To address this, Cabinet agreed to establish a working group to take a fresh look at these aspects of the entity design.

“This initiative is another important step in our transformational Three Waters reform which aims to ensure every New Zealander has access to affordable, safe and sustainable drinking water, waste water and storm water services without ballooning costs to households and families.”

Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ.

Mahuta says is confident the members of the Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability of new Water Services Entities will bring diverse and representative perspectives to the table.

She says establishing this working group will ensure entities have accountability back to the communities they serve, and ensure an open and transparent process.

The Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability of new Water Services Entities is comprised of 20 members, including an independent chairperson, nine elected members of local authorities, nine iwi/Maori representatives, and the chair of the joint Central-Local Government Three Waters Steering Committee.

It will be independently chaired by Doug Martin, a highly experienced advisor in public sector organisational performance.

He was a member of Auckland Council’s Council-Controlled Organisation Independent Review Panel and was appointed Crown Manager to Christchurch City Council to help it regain its accreditation as a building consent authority.

Local Government New Zealand Chair Stuart Crosby said LGNZ is pleased that the Government has acknowledged feedback from local government leaders and is committed to working with the sector, leveraging the strength of the Heads of Agreement, on developing solutions to critical issues the sector has identified.

“The Working Group will help develop solutions to sticking points around representation and accountability, and other critical issues for councils,” says Mahuta.

“New Zealanders need water services which will meet the diverse needs of our communities, needs our councils understand better than anyone, and we are confident this working group is the circuit breaker to get the model right.

“The Working Group will work in an open and transparent way, including by making its advice and recommendations publicly available.

“It’s a bottom line for the government that water services entities continue to be publicly-owned, have operational and financial autonomy to make much needed investment, and have oversight from local authorities and mana whenua. It is essential that our water services allow for local influence and democratic accountability.”

The Working Group will report back in March 2022, which ensures there is time for the advice and recommendations to inform the final entity design.

The Working Group members are:

  •   •  Independent Chairperson: Doug Martin

  •   •  Elected members of local authorities: Mayor Phil Goff, Auckland, Mayor Dr Jason Smith, Kaipara, Mayor Garry Webber, Western Bay of Plenty, Mayor Neil Holdom, New Plymouth, Mayor Campbell Barry, Lower Hutt, Mayor Rachel Reese, Nelson, Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch, Mayor Tim Cadogan, Central Otago, and Mayor Lyn Patterson, Masterton.

  •   •  Iwi/Māori representatives: Ngarimu Blair, Jamie Tuuta, Karen Vercoe, Ngahiwi Tomoana, Olivia Hall, Gabrielle Huria, Barry Bragg, and John Bishara. (One further representative for Entity A to be confirmed)

  •   •  Chair of the joint Central-Local Government Three Waters Steering Committee: Brian Hanna

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Tom Ranger

Posted on 12-11-2021 21:21 | By

@ Get our roads Councils and Govt’s powers are the issue. The more ability they have. The more risk we are in from them. I am hearing that Biden is proposing that they(govt) should be able to influence the stockmarket and any market of which they believe there may be a bubble or a bust occurring. So they could in theory destroy your asset simply because they "believe" it’s a bubble. ie Bitcoin. Tesla. Iron Ore. Lithium. etc Every market. This is a possible fundamental change in monetary policy here. Poly’s and Bankers. Bunch of criminals.

Another working group

Posted on 11-11-2021 20:04 | By

If Councils had concentrated on what they were supposed to do in the first place, reform would not be needed, 3 waters and roads are the veins of any community, building museums, art galleries, $1 sale for $20 mill parking building in a dead town is not important, those costs should be borne by dreamers and user pays, not ratepayers, cycle ways have no impact on roading congestion in the Western Bay because those that commute from out of town ain’t gonna peddle to work, the reason we are in this predicament is because all the rich people minority nice to haves list has been met while the purpose of Council main responsibilities has not. Councillors are voted by the minority that do vote and basically have nothing but self interest and their mates at heart. Councils should be abolished, they are not fit for purpose

3 waters

Posted on 11-11-2021 18:51 | By dumbkof2

how can iwi make up 50% of the working group when they only make up 16% of the population

Selected by govt

Posted on 11-11-2021 11:10 | By

So govt selects one of the people who said we have to hear more details before deciding. Real surprise, a handful of select people added to a group to rubber stamp what govt says. Any word on how much we will be paying Maori each year to have water ?

Make up of working group

Posted on 11-11-2021 10:46 | By Kancho

This is the intended governance model . Fifty percent of governance is to go to selected Maori although 17 percent of population and is not democratically selected nor owners of the infrastructure paid for by ratepayers. This will take local ratepayers assets and their control from them . Meanwhile government continue to borrow billions for generations to pay interest on . The council’s have Government restrictions on borrowing and so have struggled to fund infrastructure. A that is required is government free up funding of councils as they do for other infrastructure. Building a bureaucracy is not proven to do better, in fact this government have proven this with kiwi build and poor performance in many areas. Remember this steamroller approach as this hidden agenda wasn’t in their election campaign. Vote them out asap.

Democracy ? in NZ now.

Posted on 11-11-2021 09:49 | By xenasdad

I see this as Jacinda’s "Transparent" Democracy, Mahuta-Trump style, We will do as we want despite the citizens clearly saying "NO, we reject all the cartoons for kiddies propaganda, and it is based on models in an area in Scotland, nothing like NZ in reality !"