Govt delivers more goodies and a Treaty apology – but the big news is that it has pulled the plug on Three Waters entrenchment clause

Buzz from the Beehive

The government hadn’t finished a beneficent day or so of handouts, when we filed our previous Buzz from the Beehive on Friday.

Lots of goodies had been up for grabs during that day, but geography, ethnicity and occupations largely determined who would benefit.

The same considerations loomed large in two subsequent announcements – 

Funding boost for kaupapa Māori response to homelessness

Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness) Marama Davidson has announced a significant funding boost today for kaupapa Māori approaches that support whānau into housing.


10 new whare for Ngāi Tāmanuhiri kaumātua and whānau in Te Muriwai

Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare joined Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and the wider Toitū Tairāwhiti collective, at the opening of 10 new homes built for kaumātua and whānau in Muriwai today.

 But handouts for a favoured few (fair to say) accounted for just two of the latest bunch of press statements from the Beehive.

The most significant announcement, released this morning while parliamentary reporters  would have been at church,  was headlined – 

Government to remove entrenchment from Three Waters legislation

The Government will fix the Water Services Entities Bill this week by removing the entrenchment clause that was voted on during committee stages, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins announced today.

 This followed a tsunami of criticisms of a tawdry breach of constitutional conventions which the Ardern government had approved (although the same government has shown a contempt for the weight of public opinion on many other aspects of the wretched Three Waters programme).

Highly esteemed constitutional lawyers and academic were among the critics after Labour and the Green – shabbily exploiting urgency procedures in Parliament – added an entrenchment provision to the Three Waters legislation.

The ill-considered provision would have required 60 per cent of MPs in a future Parliament to overturn the Three Waters law, instead of a simple majority which applies to almost every law passed.

The critics included the Law Society, as Kiwiblog noted in a post headed – 

Law Society condemns Three Waters entrenchment

The Herald reports:

Introducing an entrenchment provision into Three Waters legislation while the Government is operating under urgency is unconstitutional and undemocratic, the head of the New Zealand Law Society believes.

Law Society president Frazer Barton has penned a letter to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, criticising a new clause that was added to the Water Services Entities Bill, known as Three Waters legislation.

Undemocratic and unconstitutional seems to sum up the Government!

 The Nats have described the government’s decision to step back from this as –  

Govt’s embarrassing U-Turn on Three Waters bill

Labour was today shamed into an embarrassing U-turn after the Government and the Greens were caught out trying to make the unpopular Three Waters legislation harder to overturn, National’s Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

“It’s good to see Labour have listened to us and backed down, but the Prime Minister still has questions to answer around how this happened. This is about trust,” Mr Bishop says.

The government had not only been listening to National, obviously.  

Bishop noted that – 

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was unaware the Bill had been amended, however Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta later admitted it was discussed in Caucus – which the Prime Minister chairs.

“The Prime Minister needs to explain how the Government ended up in this position.”

Kiwiblog had drawn attention to the need for explanations, too,  in a post headed –  

How to reconcile what Jacinda said?

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended a Labour Party caucus meeting where a last-minute entrenchment clause in the Government’s controversial Three Waters legislation was discussed, despite her saying on Monday it was “not necessarily something I would be aware of”. …

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed, through a spokesperson, the change to the bill was discussed with the Labour caucus – a meeting of all its MPs – in advance of the House sitting.

“We knew it was novel and may not pass the constitutional threshold, but it was still worthy of consideration,” Mahuta said, in an emailed response to questions.

This is Nanaia throwing Jacinda under the bus, after Ardern and Hipkins said they knew nothing about the amendment they voted for. Everyone assumed that the SOP by the Greens was tabled at the last minute, and Mahuta as the Minister in charge decided to have Labour vote for it, on the fly.

But the reality is that Mahuta took the Green SOP to the Labour caucus, and it was either explicitly approved, or there was no objection to it.

This makes it a huge credibility issue for the Prime Minister. I can only think of four explanations, to reconcile what she said, to what we now know.

She wasn’t listening in caucus

Maybe she was bored with Three Waters, and despite the fact she chairs Caucus, she wasn’t listening to Mahuta and didn’t think she had to pay attention to what was being said.

She didn’t understand

Maybe she simply didn’t understand what Mahuta was saying. She may have got confused.

She forgot

Maybe she forgot it was discussed at caucus, even thought it was just a week ago.

She lied

This is the fallback option if none of the other three explanations are credible.

Other statements from the Beehive are – 

Joint statement: Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong welcomed Aotearoa New Zealand’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Nanaia Mahuta to Canberra today for biannual Australia – Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.

Big online platforms to pay fair price for local news content

The Government will legislate to require big online digital companies such as Google and Meta to pay a fair price to New Zealand media companies for the the local news content they host and share on their platforms, Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson announced today.

Maniapoto receives Crown Apology – Ka whakawhiwhia ki a Ngāti Maniapoto te Whakapāhatanga a te Karauna

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, alongside Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little, has delivered the Crown Apology to Maniapoto for its historic breaches of Te Tiriti of Waitangi.





2 thoughts on “Govt delivers more goodies and a Treaty apology – but the big news is that it has pulled the plug on Three Waters entrenchment clause

  1. Looks like the entrenchment proposal served it’s purpose, no comment anywhere on the foreshore and geothermal additions to make it 5 Waters and Iwi control of all water.


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