Mahuta says opposition to Three Waters reform is 'curious'

Source: Q and A

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has defended the Three Waters reform amid mounting criticism from councils and opposition parties.

Around the country, dozens of councils have either indicated their opposition, or called for the reforms to be put on hold, with a consultation period coming to an end in a fortnight.

Mahuta told Q+A with Jack Tame that the opposition of several Northland councils was “curious” given the touted benefits, and that the proposals depended on everyone being in.

“The Far North and Kaipara will benefit significantly from these reforms, so it’s curious they’re taking such a strong position when there are many communities in the Far North that are still on boil water drinking notices.”

Mahuta said the issue needed to be seen in the context of decades of “underinvestment” in water networks.

“It’s not like it happened just yesterday. What we have is a government that is prepared to take on a very difficult and complex set of challenges, and propose to the sector – look, we can’t just carry on.”

Earlier on Sunday morning, National’s local government spokesperson Christopher Luxon called for the Government to listen to the “multitude of mayors pleading for the Three Waters plans to be dumped”.

“Only a handful of mayors have explicitly supported the reforms, while the remaining 60-odd are not on board.

"Many are in fact urging the Government to suspend the process because they have not had adequate time to digest the detail or consult their communities,” said Luxon.

The Government wants to split up the water assets into four different entities.

Meanwhile, ACT leader David Seymour said the Government would be forced to legislate to force councils to join.

“Asked if the Government would simply legislate objecting councils into its scheme, the Minister dodged the question," Seymour said.

"It’s clear the Government intends to bully councils when its hapless attempts at persuasion fails."