McAnulty mentions “democracy” as he braces to meet local authority leaders – and maybe he will dive into Three Waters issues

Buzz from the Beehive

Amidst a raft of statements that crow about government achievements and/or bray about new initiatives, Point of Order found an oddity:  a statement from the newly minted Associate Minister of Local Government who intends to meet local government leaders around the country to talk about this, that and …

Well, surely he will want to talk (if not listen) about Three Waters and explain the influence that will be wielded by the sister of his colleague,  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta,

But the press statement only hinted that  Three Waters would be on the agenda.

The crowing and braying statements, of course, were much less puzzling.

  •  More than 30,000 small businesses have participated in Government-funded digital training after Budget 2021 committed $44 million, over two years, for digital training and advice.
  • The latest Crown Accounts show “a solid result”, despite challenging international conditions, “reflecting the Government’s careful management of the books”.
  • New legislation aimed at tackling delays in the family justice system will help improve the wellbeing of thousands of children caught up in Family Court disputes every year.
  • New Zealand will ban the import of Russian gold.
  • The country’s first national public health system to fight disease and promote healthy lives has been launched.
  • The PM is leading a trade mission including over 30 New Zealand businesses to Melbourne and Sydney this week (this is being promoted as “part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19”).
  • The third and final stage of “the new simplified Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) policy” opens today.

And then there was the statement issued in the name of new Associate Minister of Local Government Kieran McAnulty, who is beginning a series of visits to all of the 55 rural and provincial councils “across the motu” (which means “around the country”).

McAnulty’s language suggests he is intending to champion democracy and (although he didn’t quite go this far) the admirable concept of government of the people, by the people, for the people,

“Local government plays a crucial role in our democratic system, ensuring people have a voice in the leadership of their community,” Kieran McAnulty said.

But we don’t recall him voting against bills (see here and here) that were crafted to undermine our democratic arrangements by empowering some citizens with much stronger electoral rights  and privileges than the rest of us would enjoy.

McAnulty went on to declare the aim of his mission:

“Each local council is distinct and in taking on the role of Associate Minister of Local Government, with a particular focus on regional issues, I believe it’s important I connect with each one, to hear directly about the particular issues facing their communities, and support them in areas of potential progress and growth.”

He seems to have been doing some homework on his ministerial brief:

“I understand the challenges that rural councils and communities face, which often include lower rating bases, rates pressures, housing pressures and an increase in climate related natural disasters.

“There are also big projects happening across the board which the Government has been working hard on, and I’m keen to continue that work.”

Some big projects?

Does Three Waters come into that category?

But let’s hear some more from the eager minister:

“This is the first time we’ve had a Minister with delegations across Local Government, Transport, and Emergency Management, which are portfolios with a considerable impact on local councils. Meeting with all rural and provincial councils will provide an opportunity for me to make connections across these portfolios from a local government perspective.”

Hmm.  This sounds too good to be true and – sure enough – McAnulty couldn’t help himself from saying:

“As a Government we are committed to collaborating and working constructively with local councils and so it was important to me to make the effort as early as possible to meet all the rural and provincial councils.

“These visits are a chance for me to listen to the rural and provincial councils, and continue the work of my colleagues of engaging with rural New Zealand.”

Three Waters invites a “yeah, right” retort.

Minister McAnulty will meet with all 55 councils ahead of the local government elections in early October.

The trip will start with the Waimakariri, Hurunui, Selwyn, Horowhenua, Kāpiti Coast, Western Bay of Plenty and Whakatāne District Councils over the next week. He will then meet with councils across Southland, Otago, Gisborne, Wairoa, Central Hawke’s Bay, the Tararua District and Wairarapa on the week of 11 July.

Let’s hope he can explain some of the matters aired by freelance journalist Graham Adams on The Platform with regard to the role that will be played – and the powers exercised – by Nanaia Mahuta’s younger sister, Tipa, as chair of the Māori Advisory Group for the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai.

Revisiting this today in  a post titled Three Waters is more than co-governance, Kiwiblog’s David Farrar notes that much of the focus around Three Waters has been the co-governance of the regional entities that effectively will appoint the boards of the four proposed water companies.

But there is more to it than that and Adams’ article – which references matters raised by Thomas Cranmer on Twitter but ignored by the state-subsidised mainstream news media – draw  attention to “issues worthy of debate”.

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