3 Waters: ‘Leave our bloody assets alone’

The Southland District Council Building in Invercargill. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Southland District Council Building in Invercargill. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Southland District Council will be putting a stake in the ground and sending a clear message to central government its Three Waters assets are not up for grabs.

Mayor Gary Tong said at a meeting late last month the assets, which had been paid for by generations of ratepayers, would not leave their ownership.

"What we are saying as a council is: ‘Leave our bloody assets alone and let’s concentrate on providing fresh and clean drinking water and tidying up the wastewater for the receiving environment’," he said.

"Even Ngai Tahu have come out very, very strongly saying they are not there for the assets; they are there for the water: for clean drinking water and for water to be cleaned up before it goes back out to the environment."

The council had sent a "loud and clear" message to both Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and the Prime Minister, which failed to receive a response.

The lack of information from central government had been unhelpful to those working at the council level and preparing the council submission on the Three Waters legislation.

Mr Tong said the council’s submission would be making comment on the planned co-governance structure and transition processes.

"We will be putting in our two bob’s worth because whatever happens with that structure, we need to have a local say and local input."

Preparing a select committee submission which represented ratepayers well was weighing heavily on Southland district councillors.

Council chief executive Cameron McIntosh said the submission process had been made more difficult by the "truncated" submission period.

"This is not a normal consultation period — this has really been shortened up by government, so we are already on the clock."

Cr Karyn Owen was concerned central government had not given councils enough time to adequately consult with ratepayers or allow them to be fairly represented.

Information circulating in the community was scant and littered with assumptions, conjecture and misinformation, she said

"We are best able to interpret what this means to people and provide information to the public.

"We’ve got a role in educating [people] with what the actual information is," she said.

Mr Tong said a copy of the submission would be made available on the council’s website from July 13.

"It will be there for everyone to see what we are putting in and hopefully people will tag on to that because 10 days after that, submissions close."

He was encouraging ratepayers to make their own personal submissions on the Bill and the council had provided a link on its website.

A decision was yet to be made on whether a council representative would be speaking to the submission.

--  Toni McDonald





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