Govt to repeal Three Waters by end of next week

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown. Photo: RNZ
Local Government Minister Simeon Brown. Photo: RNZ
The government plans to repeal Labour's Three Waters laws by the end of next week, and is setting up an advisory group ahead of passing two replacement pieces of legislation.

The repeal will disestablish the water entities, keeping water assets in councils' hands.

One of the new bills would be passed by the middle of the year, setting out "provisions relating to council service delivery plans and transitional economic regulation" and enabling councils to "start shifting the delivery of water services into more financially sustainable configurations should they wish to do so".

The second bill - to be introduced in December and passed by the middle of next year - would set out long-term financial sustainability requirements, establish a range of "structural and financing tools, including a new type of financially independent council-controlled organisation".

It would also set up an economic regulation regime, although it was unclear how this would differ from the one Labour's legislation overseen by the Commerce Commission last year.

In a statement, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown said the repeal of Labour's Three Waters legislation would "restore continued local council ownership and control of water services, and responsibility for service delivery".

He said the government would be passing all the relevant legislation by mid-2025, ahead of the local government elections in October that year.

He said he had set up a technical advisory group (TAG) of experts in finance, infrastructure and local government to contribute specialist and technical expertise.

"The TAG will be focused on providing advice and assurance on policy and legislative settings that will enable local councils to appropriately recover costs and access the long-term debt needed to fund the required investment in water infrastructure."