Our Three Waters response

South Wairarapa District Council has given initial feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs on the Government’s Three Waters proposal. Public consultation will begin after this process.

The documents can be found on our Three Waters website page.

Our Chief Executive Harry Wilson said:

“Our predominant concerns are that the current proposal removes democratic accountability over the entity. While councils remain owners of the assets, under the current proposal they don’t have any direct control over them.  

“We want to see changes to the governance model that support councils’ role as the entities’ owners and reflects the investment by our communities.   We believe our council needs a clear voice in the entity, one that carries sufficient weight and protects councils’ placemaking role. Also ensuring that investment is not prioritised to the bigger centres of population.

“Our community needs  simple and easy mechanisms to have their say.  If the proposal is unable to achieve these basic principles it will have failed in the interests of economic rationalism vs democratic accountability. We have raised these issues with the Minister and will be really interested to see her reply.

“We all recognise there is an issue to be addressed, and small councils like ourselves don’t have the ability to leverage funding, so if the Government can find an option that balances these competing factors, we are happy to listen.”

Our Mayor Alex Beijen said:

“I have been vocal on my concerns on the process for over a year now, with both the governance proposal, and the inaccuracies in figures justifying the case for change.

“If we split the reform into 2 parts, Change and Governance, there is a case for change. To rely on rating for infrastructure funding is unpalatable to residents, and a case in point is the ratepayers’ response to realistically rating for needed works in 2021. 

“The other part  – proposed Governance – to my mind is a clumsy,  poorly thought out structure that seems to be designed to outrage any sensible ratepayer or council. Proper discussion requires a number of options to be presented for discussion. 

“I urge people to review the governance structure of Tasmania Water as a more sensible partnership. 

“Whatever we do, we must also be aware of the increasing government standards, and the upcoming costs associated with complying with their goals over the next few years. Can any council afford to rate for the new standards?”

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