After the Water Services Entities Bill passed its third reading in Parliament, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said it was the first of three bills that will ensure affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services can be provided to New Zealanders now and into the future.
Everyone agreed that change was needed to ensure communities have safe, reliable drinking water at an affordable price, she said.
“We are already seeing what is at stake with over 34,000 New Zealanders getting sick from drinking water each year.”
Point of Order has been dipping into the most recent data we could find on the Massey University-based Environmental Health Intelligence NZ website.
This provides information and intelligence on how the environment affects the health of New Zealand’s population.
The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill and Water Services Legislation Bill have been introduced to Parliament today, following the passage of the Water Services Entities Act.
Parker says this means a consenting pathway is now available for quarrying activities, landfills and clean-fill areas, mineral mining (with some additional controls on coal mining) and some urban development.
The pressure on Jacinda Ardern to sack Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is building. But Mahuta is too powerful within the Labour Party to get rid of easily.
The Three Waters reforms have become one of the Labour Government’s greatest liabilities. While there is widespread consensus on the need for significant reform of water infrastructure, including from opposition political parties and local government, the specific reforms the Government have dogmatically pursued remain unconvincing to most, if not downright offensive to many.
National’s deputy leader, Nicola Willis, applied one of the many lashings that the government received in the House this week: ‘Today we have the grovelling back-down, but the stain on our democracy, the damage to our constitution, will remain.’ THOMAS CRANMER writes –
As much as the government tried to maintain the line repeated by the Prime Minister yesterday that, “We voted for it as a team, we’re fixing it as a team”, the cracks in a divided caucus and dysfunctional leadership team were all too evident.
When Minister Mahuta, the chief architect of the Three Waters reforms, stood up in the House last Wednesday evening to respond to SOP 285 tabled by Eugenie Sage, she said that the amendment would test the will of the House. Perhaps only her closest confidants understood that the Minister intended to test the will of her own colleagues to a far greater degree than that of the opposition.
Whilst it is impossible to determine with any certainty what Labour’s caucus understood it would be voting for during the Committee of the Whole stage and who Labour’s chief whip took his instructions from when he applied Labour’s party vote in favour of SOP 285, the effect of Mahuta’s power play has been to expose the two rival camps within Cabinet which remain unreconciled following yesterday’s reversal. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: A government humiliated”→
As Cabinet Ministers have been blindsided by developments in the Three Waters legislation, the events of last Wednesday night give a glimpse of the power politics that are at play within government. THOMAS CRANMER writes:
As the furore over the government’s attempted entrenchment of the anti-privatisation provision within the Three Waters legislation continues to buffer the government, Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that their ‘no surprises’ policy has been replaced with something rather more dramatic.
Last week, the Prime Minister was blindsided when Barry Soper asked for an explanation about the expansion of elements of the reforms to include geothermal and coastal waters. Ministers Robertson and Woods similarly both confessed to not knowing anything about the change. It gave the impression of a Cabinet that had lost its grip on Three Waters. More broadly, it raised questions as to who is actually in charge. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Mahuta ditches the ‘no surprises’ policy”→
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”→
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”→
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.”
Despite the protestations of the Minister, the recommendations of the controversial He Puapua report are deeply embedded in Three Waters. THOMAS CRANMER reports –
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the current government’s policies concerning co-governance, that the recommendations set out in the controversial report, He Puapua, are deeply embedded in the Three Waters reforms – particularly in relation to the operation of Te Mana o te Wai.
He Puapua is a report prepared for the then Minister for Maori Development, Nanaia Mahuta in 2019. It was commissioned by Cabinet to be the pathway for New Zealand to meet its commitment to the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. Essentially, it is the road-map for Maori co-governance by 2040, the 200-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
As we now know, Minister Mahuta directly appointed her family member, Waimirirangi Ormsby, to the working group which authored the report, with another family member, Tamoko Ormsby, featuring as a contributor. Amongst the numerous contracts and appointments awarded to family members of the Minister over last 3 years, it is this appointment that Act’s David Seymour identified as being “a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual”.
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.