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 PM was strutting the international stage (virtually), the Minister of Agriculture turned to pot, the Minister for Emergency Management was limbering up for a shake-up, and the Minister for the Environment was appointing people to speak for a river that (under our laws) is deemed to be a living entity.
The Minister for Local Government – awash with confidence in her infallibility, it seems – declared her intent to force the Three Waters reforms on local authorities that have raised a raft of reasonable objections. The local authorities had better believe her. She has demonstrated in the past her flair for flushing aside the niceties of good legislative procedure.
To counter any impression the government won’t listen to its citizens, on the other hand, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark announced public feedback is being sought on the regulatory safeguards required to ensure consumers and communities receive three waters services that meet their needs.
“The future three waters system needs to promote consumer interests and ensure infrastructure is delivered in a way that is efficient, affordable and resilient. To achieve this, the Government is considering whether economic and consumer protection regulation is needed, and how any new laws could be designed,” David Clark said
Yet again, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is proposing a programme of change which would erode the mechanisms whereby citizens hold decision-makers to account.
Today she has announced plans to establish four publicly owned entities to take responsibility of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across New Zealand, claiming this will save ratepayers thousands of dollars and better ensure the $120 to $185 billion investment in services can be made.
Her release is part of a package of proposed reforms including the recent establishment of Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator, and the planned introduction of economic regulation. It includes the proposed boundaries of the four water providers, further details on the proposed water services entities, including governance arrangements, the role of iwi, and how they would be regulated.