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Photo: Supplied. South Wairarapa District Council has asked the government to delay the Water Services Entities Bill "until better consultation is undertaken". Mayor Alex Beijen presented the councillors' submission to the government's Finance and Expenditure Committee last week, and came out swinging about the process. Local councils were required to consult on any significant decision under the Local Government Act, "yet central government have not done this themselves", Beijen said.
He compared the Three Waters Reform engagement to being asked about the colour and accessories of an already designed car, "not whether we need a car or a ute". He and many other mayors had examined many models for water infrastructure reform, "and Scottish Water [which has influenced New Zealand's reforms] continues to appear to be the worst example to follow", he said.
There was a "fundamental problem" with presenting this first Bill to Parliament because it set the path for additional legislation to follow, Beijen said. Ownership, asset clarification, economic regulation, the cost to public based on accurate information, and billing needed to be clarified before the Bill went any further, Beijen said.
Regarding South Wairarapa District Council's water infrastructure, he said central government limited the borrowing ability of councils, "thus creating an impossible situation to comply with the new standards for water".
The Auditor-General's submission on three waters legislation is a "constructive suggestion", the minister says, and a normal part of the Parliamentary process. In a submission to the select committee, Auditor-General John Ryan has urged the government to require auditing of the incoming Water Services Entities.