News & Media

Holding your council to account on Three Waters

Lee Smith, Three Waters Spokesperson, and the Team at Groundswell NZ

Three Waters is back on the Government’s immediate agenda and, despite their recent spin, all the original problems with the policy are still going forward, including local communities losing their say over how their water assets are governed.

While Three Waters is being forced on councils by central government, local government still needs to be held to account for whether they are going along with the Government or standing up for their residents.

Our consistent position has been that no ratepayer assets should change hands without a clear local and democratic mandate from residents in binding referenda.

Our letter to councils

Groundswell NZ has made a request to every council in New Zealand, asking for clarity on their position, both on the Three Waters policy and on their membership of Communities 4 Local Democracy, the group of councils pushing to keep local control over local water assets.

We have also made a formal official information request for what motions were voted on by councils, either about Three Waters or joining Communities 4 Local Democracy, as well as how each councillor voted.

Some councils have been opposing Three Waters and standing up to the Government asset grab, but many have been convinced to support the Three Waters project, whether bribed, coerced, or simply with a majority of councillors eager to progress the Government’s agenda.

Groundswell NZ will be making sure voters know how their councillors voted as we approach the elections later this year.

Along with those councils, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) – the national body meant to promote local government and act as a conduit between councils and central government – has sold itself out to the Government’s agenda. In a move all too familiar to those of us paying levies, LGNZ signed an agreement with the Government that prevents it from criticising Three Waters.

As one Timaru councillor said, LGNZ has become “mouthpieces for the Department of Internal Affairs”.

This failure to live up to LGNZ’s purpose on such a fundamental issue led to the Timaru District Council withdrawing from it. We also asked in our letter for each council to similarly withdraw, as the $4 million a year paid to LGNZ would be better spent on the infrastructure needs of our local communities.

Upcoming public meetings

Groundswell NZ is holding public meetings on Three Waters as we head into the local election season, so you can both be informed and have your say on what we can do to stop this terrible loss of local democracy.

Gore Town & Country Club
2 Bury Street, Gore
1pm, 8th June

South Otago Town & Country Club
1 Yarmouth Street, Balcultha
7pm, 8th June

Invercargill Workingmen's Club
154 Esk Street, Invercargill
7pm, 9th June

Watch this space for more information on our other events around the country.

With your support, we can put our local councils on notice that, if they won’t represent us, we will elect councils who will.

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