Infrastructure New Zealand (INZ) welcomes today’s announcement by Government supporting the majority of recommendations made by the Three Waters Working Group addressing local representation and governance issues. This represents another important step in creating the environment for much-needed water infrastructure improvements across Aotearoa.
Infrastructure New Zealand supports the need for water reform. New Zealanders deserve world-class infrastructure, and there is significant evidence to show that our Three Waters assets are not working to a standard that is fit for the future.
INZ has been supportive of the proposed reforms in principle, conditional on appropriate accountability and governance arrangements being in place for the proposed water entities. Today’s confirmation of local Council ownership and mechanisms to ensure strong community voice demonstrate a responsiveness by Government.
“There is broad agreement that our Three Waters infrastructure isn’t in a good state, isn’t future ready, and that change is required,” says Claire Edmondson, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand. “Without change, we will see more events like the Havelock North water contamination event that saw 5,500 New Zealanders fall ill, which is obviously unacceptable.
“A fair amount of public feedback to the proposed reforms have seemed to relate to loss of local control, and people in a region paying for work elsewhere that they won’t benefit from. Today’s announcement about the entity design addresses this through a public shareholding structure that will make community ownership clear. We are encouraged by the Government’s openness to listen and adapt, and feel this is representative of a good process for such an important policy change.
Three Waters reforms remove a big problem for Councils and carries several advantages including economies of scale, allowing upgrade of services at a lower cost and is a better outcome for ratepayers.
INZ will continue to advocate for responsible water infrastructure reforms and looks forward to the proposed legislation.
Claire Edmondson on 021 272 7879.