DCC seeks assurance over water reform

Bureaucrats outside Dunedin must not hold sway on how and where the city grows, the Dunedin City Council is poised to tell the Government.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Australia Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's...
Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: NZ Herald
The council could seek assurances local planning for increased housing will be preserved when the Government pushes ahead with reform of water, wastewater and stormwater services.

A compromised ability to determine the shape of Dunedin’s future is one theme in a letter councillors will consider sending to Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta next week.

Others include profound concern about a rushed timetable for community consultation and doubts about the quality of information available for the public.

Councillors are to debate on Monday what feedback they should provide about the Government’s proposed reforms, which have been promoted as necessary to get systems up to scratch in a cost-effective way, including through the creation of regional water entities.

Ms Mahuta can expect some blunt messages from Dunedin about the importance of local influence.

‘‘The balance of power for setting the strategic direction for land use planning must stay with councils,’’ the draft letter to her states.

‘‘The council does not want to see these reforms create a situation where the costs of putting pipes in the ground or upgrading treatment plants dictate where and how an urban area grows.

‘‘Ensuring local decision-making is maintained through the reforms in this area is a bottom line for us.’’

It is unclear how much ability communities, through their councils, will have to influence the new entities’ decision-making, the draft letter states.

Councils are expected to opt in or out of being part of the reform programme by the end of the year, but the Government’s timelines have come in for heavy criticism.

There has also been scepticism about the Government’s financial case for change, which envisages substantial savings being made through economies of scale.

Southern mayors wrote to Ms Mahuta in late August.

Information provided by the Government for communities consisted of ‘‘television advertisements that provide virtually no information and a Department of Internal Affairs website that has an overload of highly technical information in a format that is very difficult for a layperson to navigate’’, they said.

‘‘Rushing the engagement process will simply not provide for good decision-making, and the decisions made as a result could see costly consequences for communities, councils and the Government for many years to come.’’

In July, the Government announced a $2.5billion package to support the transition to the proposed new set-up.

A $2billion component was to invest in the future of local government and community wellbeing.

A $500million component was to make sure no council was left worse off through the reforms.

The Dunedin City Council’s share of the $2billion would be $46.17million.



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Unless you are affiliated with Ngai Tahu (and they only want control over the water not the piped asset as they are a financial liability), south islanders should be very afraid of these proposals. Centralisation underpins the government's communist manifesto. There isn't a single programme this government has rolled out with any competence or effeciency. The 3waters will be the same.

I saw Nanaia Mahuta's interview on Q & A last week and it didn't inspire confidence. She wasn't even asked about the governance structure which was a bit odd. She tried to dodge giving proper answers to many questions. Something like this requires the utmost transparency.

I find it hard to believe this council would be sending any blunt messages to this Government, more like come and take it comrade!!

The DCC needs to opt out of this completely. Signing up to it is the start of the erosion of local body politics and the centralization of decision making by government. Sounds similar to a few countries around the world where the people have no voice...

Hopefully all councils will see the wood for the trees and say NO, to this 3 waters reform.
Giving away what rate payers have paid to support for generations is not on.
Not even worth the conversation.
If the greens delusional idealism wasn't mentioned, this wouldn't be happening.
Trying use these scare tactics, telling councils they wouldn't be able to afford the up grades, is true but to believe the other , 3 waters, is disastrous.
More racial divide unfortunately.

Some of you have short memories about the failings of various incarnations of the DCC over the years, Aurora Energy, South Dn flooding, the Stadium, etc. You're conveniently forgetting the forced sale of the Waipori Scheme by the Nats - so much for communist plots. And how much representation do you honestly think the average citizens has? Do the councillors come from a wide variety of backgrounds? Nope, we see the usual collection of burghers drawn from the ranks of business because we think that means they know something. As far as I'm concerned local govt has had it's chance.

"Bureaucrats outside Dunedin must not hold sway on how and where the city grows".
Read between the lines: only bureaucrats inside Dunedin must. Nobody cared to ask public.
Centralised or decentralised it's all about competency. Too sad that both central and our local government lack it so badly.

As much as we all like to slag off our councils, I have to say my council (DCC) has always had potable water available to drink through my household tap for as long as I can remember. This is something that they learned to do over the last 150 years. How much practice has central government had at this? Not a lot, so if it isn't broke, I think you all know the rest.

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