The reform support package - and feedback to government
In mid-July 2021 the Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government announced a comprehensive $2.5 billion three waters support package.
Whanganui was offered $23,921,616 by the Government from the “better off” component of the support package.
Territorial authorities were asked to consider the support package alongside the case for change the government presented.
Whanganui District Council gathered and analysed information to fully understand the impact of the government's proposal on the Whanganui community and we provided feedback and questions to the government by the end of September 2021.
Councils were unable to make any formal decisions during the eight week engagement period.
Our questions for the government
Here are some of the key questions we sent to the government:
- How much time will there be for us to fully engage and consult with our community? So far the government’s communication and engagement with the public has not been adequate for this purpose.
- What certainty and protection will there be to ensure our Whanganui trade waste industries and local economy are not disadvantaged by the reforms?
- Given our considerable expenditure over the last 20 years, are the government’s projections realistic for assessing future benefits and costs to our community? The government has estimated Whanganui’s three waters infrastructure requires ongoing investment of $35 million a year. Whanganui considers this figure to be greatly inflated beyond what would actually be required.
- How can we be sure we would not be subsidising other councils who haven’t invested in their three waters assets? There needs to be some equity, recognising those councils that have been diligent and invested in their water assets, compared with those that have not. Ratepayers and users are also concerned about who they will be charged and at what level.
- How would representatives to a new water entity be appointed, or removed? Under the proposed structure, councils would appoint six representatives and mana whenua would appoint six representatives. We want to know how the appointment processes would work and how Whanganui can ensure it has a local voice within this group.
- What protections are there in the proposed legislation that will safeguard against future privatisation?
Read the full list of questions