Monday, December 4, 2023

Public backs Auckland Council Three Waters view

Auckland Council says its views of the Government’s proposed three waters reforms are strongly backed by ratepayers, according to independent polling and the results of community consultation.

Council says it consulted with Aucklanders from 3-19 December to ensure the region’s views on the proposed new entity were represented when the working group on representation, governance and accountability reports back to the Minister of Local Government later this month.

An independent poll of more than 2000 people was also carried out for council by Kantar Public to ensure the views of a representative cross-section of Aucklanders were heard.

Through the consultation process, 3457 submissions were received, of which more than three-quarters (77%) supported the council’s position that any new water entity should be kept accountable and responsive to the public through their elected council representatives. Results of the independent polling were similar, with 67% supporting the council’s position, Council said in a statement.

Submitters were even more strongly supportive of Auckland Council having the majority of control in any new entity, with 83% of submitters and 74% of survey respondents agreeing with the council’s position, it said.

Mayor Phil Goff says the consultation and polling results indicate that Auckland Council’s position has a strong mandate from Aucklanders from every part of the city.

“Auckland Council supports the reform’s intent to improve standards of water supply, increase efficiency and enable greater investment in water infrastructure across New Zealand,” he says.

“However, the council does not support the governance model proposed, which removes democratic accountability and would lead to the loss of direct control by councils over water service entities.

“Auckland Council’s ownership of assets, which will constitute 93 per cent of the water assets in Water Services Entity A, would be meaningless as Auckland would be reduced to a minority voice in decisions as to how those assets were used.

“Consultation and polling indicate the public strongly supports the council’s position. More than 80 per cent of those who submitted on to the consultation agreed council should have majority control of a new water entity, while more than 75% backed council’s view that a new entity should be kept accountable to Aucklanders through elected representatives.”

He said independent polling also showed strong backing for Council’s stance.

“And I will continue to communicate Aucklanders’ and councillors’ concerns to government.”

“Aucklanders’ views will also inform the position that I will continue to put to the Minister for Local Government in my role as a member of the Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability of new Water Services Entities, and council submissions to the Parliamentary Select Committee examining the Government’s legislation.

“I look forward to engaging constructively with the government to achieving an outcome that addresses Aucklanders’ and Auckland Council’s concerns as well as meeting the government’s desire for reform to ensure uniformly high standards of water provision and treatment of wastewater across New Zealand,” Mayor Goff said.

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