THOMAS CRANMER:  ‘New Zealand has been duped’

 

‘New Zealand has been duped’was the view expressed by National’s Maureen Pugh in the House this week, but despite opposition from National and Act, the Water Services Entities Bill passed its second reading.  THOMAS CRANMER writes:

This week, the Water Services Entities Bill passed its second reading in the House with Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori voting in favour, and National and Act voting against.

It was, in truth, an entirely predictable debate with both sides of the House talking past each other. But the opposition speakers did highlight some of the most egregious problems with the Bill. Here is a selection of some of their substantive objections (with my own emphasis added in bold).

National’s Simon Watts highlighted the potential transfer of parks and reserves to the WSEs and the broadening of the scope for the Te Mana o te Wai statements:

Explicitly, two changes in the bill. One is about including green infrastructure like parks and reserves. They are lining up local parks and reserves to be transferred to these mega entities, and the Minister pretty much categorically agreed with that yesterday in the House. They are also expanding the Te Mana o te Wai statement to include coastal and geothermal waters—under the radar, three waters has become five waters. This Government is intent on a control agenda which will be detrimental to this country’s future.

Act’s Simon Court pointed out that the government’s bottom line of balance sheet separation is no more than a fiction: Continue reading THOMAS CRANMER:  ‘New Zealand has been duped’

THOMAS CRANMER: Five Waters and a Park

As the government looks to push through the Water Services Entities Bill under urgency, it’s busy stuffing as much into its goodie bag as it can. THOMAS CRANMER wrote this ahead of the second reading of the Bill –

One week on from Parliament’s cross-party Finance and Expenditure Committee report on the Water Services Entities Bill, questions are starting to be raised about some of their recommendations.

On Monday, an excellent article from Graham Adams rightly identified the expansion of Te Mana o te Wai statements to include coastal and geothermal waters as constituting extraordinary mission creep – effectively transforming Three Waters into Five Waters. This eye-opening development has raised alarm bells amongst some commentators.

Coupled with that, a subtle change in the draft Bill has occurred. A section dealing with the preservation of rights and interests in water – which was previously positioned near the end of the Bill in clause 201 has been moved to a prominent position at the front of the Bill, where it now features as clause 9A, immediately after the clause on Treaty settlement obligations. This is a key provision for many iwi as it preserves their arguments over customary rights in water – it is the debate over who owns the water in New Zealand. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Five Waters and a Park”

THOMAS CRANMER: The Three Waters select committee reports back

On Friday, Parliament’s cross-party Finance and Expenditure Committee reported back after five months’ work on the Water Services Entities Bill. As expected, it rearranged some deck chairs THOMAS CRANMER writes… 

On Friday, Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta issued a press statement welcoming the proposed recommendations to improve the workability of water reform legislation which had been made by the Finance and Expenditure Committee.

“I thank the committee for its careful consideration of more than 80,000 submissions and welcome its recommendations. As the result of listening to public submissions, extensive changes have been proposed,” said Minister Mahuta.

Like so much of the Minister’s rhetoric, it bore only a loose association with reality. It was left to National to make the observation that the committee received some 88,383 submissions but only heard 227 oral submissions. Of the over 16,000 submissions administered by the National Party, over 1,600 requested an in-person submission, and the committee offered less than 12 this opportunity. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: The Three Waters select committee reports back”

Recommendations in select committee’s hefty report do little to dilute Mahuta’s Three Waters legislation

We were thinking about packing up for the day, here at Point of Order, when an email arrived from the Office of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

She was advising us the Government has welcomed proposed recommendations from a Parliamentary select committee to improve the workability of water reform legislation.

She didn’t provide a link to steer us to the report, but we found it here and it’s a hefty document.

For now, we must rely on Mahuta’s digested version of the contents, although we are reminded that the Nats don’t think much has been changed by the recommendations and they will scrap the legislation.

National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts notes that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta had given assurances they would consider the alternative Three Waters model proposed by the Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri mayors. 

 He said he had lodged a motion in select committee last week to extend its deliberations to properly consider the mayors’ proposal,

“… but Labour MPs used their majority to block the motion – ensuring the Bill would be sent back to the House without adequately considering the new proposal.

 “It shows that Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta’s promises of consideration and open dialogue with mayors about their alternatives are just talk. Labour has no intention of making any real changes to their reforms.”

Continue reading “Recommendations in select committee’s hefty report do little to dilute Mahuta’s Three Waters legislation”

THOMAS CRANMER:  Tuku Morgan, Three Waters and the management of conflict

Without explanation, Waikato-Tainui’s Tukoroirangi Morgan has been appointed to lead the northern Three Waters iwi body.  This raises fresh concerns about governance and how conflicts are managed. THOMAS CRANMER  writes – 

When Wayne Brown joined forces with the Mayors of Christchurch, Waimakariri and Manawatu last Monday to put forward an alternative proposal for the country’s water reforms, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, said that she was pleased the mayors saw that the current state of New Zealand’s water assets was untenable. She added that she would consider what they had raised and was keen for dialogue to continue.

In the press conference announcing the alternative proposal, the Mayors of Christchurch and Waimakariri had stated that, although they were did not support the current mega-entity model, they were “not opposed to co-governance”. Brown was more equivocal in his statements on the topic, preferring instead to observe that he “supports ideas that will work in practice”.   

Within days, a more forthright response to the mayors was made. Speaking at the National Iwi Leaders Chairs Forum in Taupo on Wednesday, Waikato-Tainui chairperson Tukoroirangi Morgan said:

I don’t know which world they belong to, this is 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand, this is about partnership … We will never be denied, we will never go silently in the night, our voice must be heard at the table and we must take our place, end of story.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER:  Tuku Morgan, Three Waters and the management of conflict”

THOMAS CRANMER: Wayne Brown lays down the challenge to Ardern and Mahuta

The Mayors of Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri deftly proposed an alternative plan for Three Waters on Monday and despite the Government’s initial response, the ball remains in its court. THOMAS CRANMER writes –

The press conference was held in Auckland and although it was led by Brown he made only the briefest of opening remarks before handing over to Waimakariri Council Mayor Dan Gordon, who announced “the path forward” with what he described as the “new consensus plan”.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger then spoke in support of the proposal.

A fourth Mayor, Helen Worboys of Manawatu, was also scheduled to attend but was unable to do so due to family circumstances. Thus, whilst the press conference had all the optics of an Auckland proposal, it was clear that the impetus was coming from further south.

Indeed, despite the claim from Dan Gordon that this was a “new” plan, it was also clear that this proposal was based on a significant amount of the C4LD analysis and was broadly in line with the opposition to Three Waters that had been voiced in the recent local government elections.

That in itself is not a bad thing. The fact that this proposal leverages off the C4LD and Castalia work gives it more weight and counters any arguments that this is a half-baked plan concocted by novice mayors.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Wayne Brown lays down the challenge to Ardern and Mahuta”

Thomas Cranmer: It’s Stop Work on Three Waters!

Newly elected Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has declared Three Waters ‘doomed’ as Watercare is ordered to stop work and S&P announces it will take no new credit-rating decisions until after the 2023 general election, which it calls ‘vital’.  This article continues a series by THOMAS CRANMER, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes

The local government elections have been widely viewed as a referendum on Three Waters but in reality they also appear to have triggered a series of announcements which dramatically call into question the viability of the controversial project.

It was no coincidence that, in the aftermath of those elections, with anti-Three Waters councillors in the ascendancy, Standard & Poor’s made its announcement that it would not be making any adjustments to the New Zealand Government or local authority credit ratings until after the 2023 general election. At first glance that may not appear significant but if you look at the detail of the message it becomes eye-opening.

 By way of background, Standard & Poor’s is the global ratings agency which reviewed the proposed Three Waters structure last year in order to issue an indicative credit rating for the water services entities. Then earlier this year it issued another report setting out indicative credit rating implications to Auckland Council and Wellington City Council of implementing the proposed reforms. This is normal practice for these types of financings.

The government pays S&P a fee and it provides them with indicative ratings based on various hypothetical scenarios. Those ratings then form part of the marketing material which is provided to potential lenders.

During this marketing phase it’s important to generate positive momentum behind the lending opportunity in order to attract a sufficient number of influential lending institutions for the financing to be a success. Any negative ‘noise’ around a potential deal coming to market can severely jeopardise its chances of success.

Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: It’s Stop Work on Three Waters!”

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart

According to the government’s own projections, the Three Waters debt will only grow over time. We will never escape it and eventually it will tear the country apart.

This article continues a series by THOMAS CRANMER, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes:

The financing of Three Waters has been almost entirely overlooked by financial analysts and media commentators despite the fact that the massive debt required to fund the planned shakeup of our water infrastructure could be as risky for the nation’s finances as Muldoon’s Think Big projects of the 1970s-80s. 

Research provided to the government has calculated that between $120bn to $185bn in investment is needed to maintain and improve New Zealand’s water infrastructure. What has been left mostly unsaid is exactly how much of this will be funded by debt and how it will be repaid.

The information we do have, however, is hardly reassuring. Government documents show the debt will keep growing and there are no plans for it to be repaid in the foreseeable future. It is effectively perpetual debt on a massive scale. Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart”

A lurch to the right? Not that the PM can see (or rather, not that she is willing to acknowledge)

The  thud   reverberating   around  the  country  on  Saturday – according to a raft of political commentators – was the  sound of  a  party vote  collapsing.  The Labour Party vote.

But that ominous interpretation didn’t reach the ears of Prime  Minister Jacinda Ardern, who  insisted  in  an interview on RNZ’s Morning  Report  that the  results  from  local body  elections  are  not “necessarily indicative of a shift in feeling on national politics”.

Really?

As RNZ pointed out, Labour gave endorsements to Wellington candidate Paul Eagle and Auckland mayoral hopeful Efeso Collins. Both men resoundingly lost.

Ardern nevertheless dismissed the notion that this rejection of candidates who had been given Labour’s stamp of approval could reflect dissatisfaction with her party.

Either the batteries that power her political antennae need recharging or she is saying something she does not believe. Continue reading “A lurch to the right? Not that the PM can see (or rather, not that she is willing to acknowledge)”

Thomas Cranmer:  Three Waters and the vexed question of ownership

 

At the heart of the Three Waters debate is a question that has been contentious since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – what does ownership really mean and is it the same as rangatiratanga?

This article is the fifth in a series by Thomas Cranmer, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes: 

My old Māori Studies lecturer, Dr Ranginui Walker described it as the “abyss of meaning” when considering the English and Māori versions of the, Treaty of Waitangi – newly constructed words that were attempting to encapsulate old, and in some cases, nebulous, concepts. At the heart of the Treaty debate is rangatiratanga, a word which Walker describes in his book ‘Struggle without End’ as:

“… a missionary neologism derived from rangatira (chief), which, with the addition of the suffix tanga, becomes chieftainship. Now the guarantee of chieftainship is in effect a guarantee of sovereignty, because an inseparable component of chieftainship is mana whenua. Without land a chief’s mana and that of his people is negated.” Continue reading Thomas Cranmer:  Three Waters and the vexed question of ownership