Buzz from the Beehive: Mahuta invites local bodies to queue up for a portion of Three Waters funding

Hard on the heels of announcing further humanitarian support for Afghanistan (to the tune of $6 million), Nanaia Mahuta was preparing to dole out big bucks on the home front.

The humanitarian aid was announced in her capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Yesterday, as Minister of Local Government, she announced that councils can now apply for the first tranche of funding from the Three Waters Reform Package to invest in their local communities

The Department of Internal Affairs has issued guidance to councils on the application process. The first tranche of $500 million of funding will be available from 1 July.

Unallocated money will be rolled into the next tranche, which becomes available on 1 July 2024, when the four publicly owned Water Service Entities are established.

Never mind the small matter of the need for Parliament to pass legislation, the Water Services Bill, to create four publicly owned water entities to take over responsibility for three waters services from local councils.

The only other ministerial announcement since Point of Order last reported on the buzz from the Beehive came from Transport Minister Michael Wood

He visited the flood-damaged Tairāwhiti region to view progress on restoring vital connections for the area’s isolated communities. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Mahuta invites local bodies to queue up for a portion of Three Waters funding”

Graham Adams: Jacinda Ardern and the Ghost of David Lange

 

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The Prime Minister is increasingly looking like a political hostage as Nanaia Mahuta presses on with the Three Waters reforms. Graham Adams sees history rhyming as her powerful Maori caucus flexes its muscles.

David Lange is one of the most tragic figures of our modern political history. Highly articulate and entertaining, he was ushered into power in a landslide in 1984 during an economic and financial crisis. Feted as the youngest Prime Minister of the 20th century, he dazzled the nation with his wit and intellect.

By the time he resigned in 1989, however, he was seen as a weak and malleable leader who had backed policies he would later regret supporting. Furthermore, the fact that his party did not advertise its radical economic agenda before the 1984 election has tainted the legacy of the Fourth Labour government ever since.

It took a while before it became clear that Lange was using his larger-than-life persona and seductive oratory to sell a transformation of New Zealand’s economic landscape on behalf of a powerful cabal in his Cabinet whose intentions he seemed not to fully comprehend.

Eventually it became obvious that he was the monkey and Roger Douglas and his neoliberal Rogernomes were the organ-grinders. As columnist Bruce Jesson put it in 1986, the charismatic Lange was “perfectly suited to the superficial politics of the television age” but he was “swept along by events beyond his control”.

It seems likely that Ardern will end up being viewed in a similar way. When she was anointed by Winston Peters in 2017, she was feted as the youngest Prime Minister in more than 150 years, before being returned to power three years later in a landslide in response to a pandemic.

Her charisma and glamour are perfectly suited to the superficial politics of the social media age but she is obliged to dance to the tune played by Nanaia Mahuta, Willie Jackson and the Maori caucus — and by the others in her Cabinet, including David Parker and Andrew Little, who support their revolutionary agenda. Continue reading “Graham Adams: Jacinda Ardern and the Ghost of David Lange”

Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters

 

The Opposition parties must be watching with glee, writes Graham Adams, as councils reject Nanaia Mahuta’s plan for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

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Even Labour’s most one-eyed supporters must be aware by now that the Three Waters reform being pushed by Nanaia Mahuta is fast becoming a make-or-break issue for the government. The eight-week “engagement” period that ended on September 30 saw a swathe of councils across the nation objecting — sometimes angrily — to the proposed changes to the management of drinking water, storm water and wastewater.

Mahuta’s plan is for the 67 councils’ water services to be merged into four giant regional authorities that ratepayers will not directly own or control. As National’s Chris Luxon says, councils are rightly worried about “not having direct influence and no shareholding or formal stake in the new entity whatsoever”.

The roll call of disaffected councils includes those overseeing our two biggest cities. Between them, Auckland and Christchurch represent nearly two million inhabitants — or roughly 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

Furthermore, their mayors — Phil Goff and Lianne Dalziel — are former high-ranking Labour ministers, which makes dismissing their opposition difficult.

The rhetoric from Christchurch councillors, in particular, has been incendiary. One, James Gough, said the proposal showed disregard for democracy, and was nothing short of “blatant asset theft”. Continue reading “Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters”