Joining water campaign group would mean funding ‘futile’ legal action: mayor

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
Dunedin's mayor has launched a pre-emptive strike against any argument the city should join a campaign opposing the Government’s controversial Three Waters plans.

Mayors representing more than a million people took their concerns about planned reforms to Parliament yesterday and 23 councils — including Christchurch city and Waimate district — have signed up to a group called Communities 4 Local Democracy, which has raised objections to the proposal to strip control of some assets from councils.

Three district councils — Whangarei, Timaru and Waimakariri — are also pursuing action in the High Court.

The broader campaign questions the Government’s drive to create four regional water services entities, and it calls for local influence in decision-making to be retained.

No council in Otago or Southland has signed up, so far, and Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the rules of the group would require Dunedin residents to help fund "futile" legal action.

"As a city council, we would have to chip in more than most, but still only have one vote within the group," Mr Hawkins said.

"We would effectively be asked to surrender our advocacy strategy to a group of smaller councils, and pay more than them for the privilege."

Mr Hawkins said he found it hard to take the group’s support for a more meaningful role for mana whenua seriously.

Group chairwoman and Manawatu Mayor Helen Worboys said the campaign was constructive and no-one disputed greater investment was needed in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

However, the Government needed to rethink its approach.

"We are the elected local voice of our communities — communities that are very clearly telling us that they don’t want control of the assets that generations of our ratepayers built up and paid for being snatched away from them as part of the Government’s plan," Mrs Worboys said.

"We don’t believe that the best solution lies in putting our assets into what will be four of the largest companies in New Zealand — and then denying our communities their say in how those companies are run."

Mrs Worboys said the group wanted to work in partnership with the Government.

The High Court action is aimed at clarifying the meaning of ownership, given the Government has argued councils would continue to "own" Three Waters assets.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan, who is part of a water entities working group, said he was trying to influence reforms from "inside the tent".

The Government was acutely aware the reforms were unpopular, he said.

"I’m not sure telling them that is going to make an iota of difference."

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, who was in Wellington yesterday, said the delegation met representatives from political parties, including Labour.

Ratepayers in his district had been clear they did not support the Government’s approach, he said.

The Government’s model left little room for small councils to influence future developments and infrastructure spending, he said.

Dunedin city councillors were united in their opposition to the Government forcing councils to be part of the reforms, but they have been divided over other aspects.

Mr Hawkins, who has been on the losing side of some votes, said his council’s view was the reform programme should be reset.

"Lest those calls go unheeded, I continue to work through any channels available to help influence the various government reform programmes."

 - grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

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Joining the group would be Futile?
Surely the cost to fight this "mandate" of our water, would be better than the extreme costs that would be forwarded on to us rate payers, once 3 waters take over, God help us, does the little man ever get a say in New Zealand anymore?.

I know you're a failed prospective MP for the greens, hence why you had to come here and impose your ideology on us.
But you are voted by the people, you represent us (terrible I know)
Do your job and listen to the people, the people don't want 3 waters theft.
Do as we want, not what your green party troughers want!

Beautifully put.
It's a shame the greens idealism is almost delusional.

Hawkins suddenly starts thinking about not wasting ratepayer money at this stage in his role as mayor? This is an important issue and Dunedin needs to challenge this. The manawhenua issue is one key problem. The group of asset managers will be 50% iwi and every decision will require 75% approval by that group. That means iwi can control every vote. This is not acceptable when that community in the south island comprises 15%. The lefties always talk of fair representation, well this is unfair representation by 333%. Time to vote Hawkins out.

Regardless of the rights/wrongs of the government campaign to ensure potable water, there is a limit to spending ratepayers' money on ideological court action.

That's a funny comment coming from someone who has a history of posting ideological points of view over the year. I recall you supported the ideological rainbow pedestrian crossing and the ideological painted dots on George Street, which together was a six-figure sum.

And what is that limit Tobe? Is it as much as what has been wasted on painting spots on the main street or frivolous artworks? Were there limits put on how much money was spent building that stadium? Lefties only start worrying about money when it suits them and their agendas.

Better to fight than roll over.

Not the first time i have criticised Mayor Hawkins for his lack of clarity. On the Three Waters issue, he seems not to be aligned with either the majority of Dunedin City Councillors or the NZ Green Party.
(See https://www.greens.org.nz/press_pause_on_three_waters_reforms)
Although he gives me the impression that he has definite views on the issue and a belief that something should be done, I still don't know what his views actually are, what he thinks should be done, and by whom and when.
It will soon be too late.
In contrast, I was very pleased to see Cr O'Malley getting hot under the collar over this issue, anger warranted because IMO the present Government's plans amounted to theft of a public asset all along and never with any sincere consultation with councils.

Councils are sensibly pooling their resources to protect democracy from this ludicrous proposal and Hawkins isn't interested? Well, I guess that sums him up.

Clearly our Mayor does not agree with the old saying, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" either that or he's quite happy to just cow tail to his central government master.

Given the number of futile projects Hawkins has instigated or supported I would have thought that would be why he joined in. But no, he hasn't the gumption to hear what the rest of the country and the Dunedin ratepayers are saying and so rolls over at the Queen of Spins behest. Pathetic.

This issue has well and truly outed Hawkins' cover as a Labour mole.

With a green tinge.

He could save some money by leaving the LGNZ which is out of step with the public and pushing their own agenda.

I suspect strongly that enthusiasm to join this group on a 1-10 score will be directly related to a 1-10 score on how well they have maintained their water infrastructure in recent years.

I am irritated by our governors' constant references to Dunedin's 'aging infrastructure' - As if it is a phenomenon peculiar to Dunedin. Actually individual infrastructure items of all types worldwide age at the same rate - at exactly one day every 24 earth hours.

Dunedin does have an 'aged' infrastructure, but only because we replace these individual aging items at a much lower rate than other more responsible authorities do. Consequently, Dunedin now has a liability in the form of its 'aged' infrastructure rather than an asset.

All this has largely happened since 2002. Since then debt has risen from a few tens of millions to a billion plus, households have increased significantly, rates per household have doubled and our infrastucture has disintegrated due to systematic neglect (non expenditure).

The key question is: Where has all this money gone to? My estimate is that it's a ten figure sum we are talking about, and the Stadium accounts for only a few percent of it.

Having read the comments from the engaged members of our community who have taken the time to post a comment, it has become very clear to me these posters are all more fit to serve our city as mayor than Mr Hawkins is.

I only hope Vandervis and Radich work collaboratively to ensure Hawkins and his cronies are gone next election.

In two jurisdictions, management of assets has led to contaminated supply.

Out of how many??? and was it from poor management or faulty infrastructure??? Also this new arrangement will not guarantee perfect results!!!!

Because there hasn't been good management.

I'd not trust Hawkins running a Mr Whippy ice cream van, let alone being a city's mayor. Sorry, he and other hanger-ons need to go.

I can understand many voters wanting to see Hawkins gone, but anyone who imagines Dunedin will be saved from spendthrifts and the Green menace next election by Vandervis and Radich co-operating is dreaming. The election system itself will force voters to choose one or the other, at least as first preference.

I’d imagine the cost of running a mayoral limo far exceeds the subscription to join this group. Get your hitching thumb out again Hawkins and spend the money so we the people can have a voice. You aren’t representing voters. This kind of attitude shows how important it is for us all to vote you out next election.

As if the cost of Covid response was not hard enough to bear. Once again the tax payers and ratepayers will get left to carry the can for the creation of a large unwieldy entity that will fail just like all before. And, just when was any of this put to the vote?

The Mayors response is sensible.
People have completely lost the plot over Three Waters. It’s a necessary step forward. People employed in Three Waters favour it so I’m with them. Parochialism won’t do us any favours.

Attempting to ram through this legislation was nothing short of a failure of the democratic process. This decision involves every rate payer and tax payer alike. The tax payers and ratepayers deserve a lot better from the politicians. Now that they have delayed the process, it appears they are now fully aware that casually dismissing the democratic process and barging ahead was just such a failure.

"People employed in Three Waters favour it" of course they would, they are employed by it....

Hawkins consistently fails to show the leadership befitting of an elected mayor.

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