Thursday, June 20, 2024

Queenstown urges minister to “build back trust” eroded by water reforms

The Mayor and Councillors of Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) have today published an open letter to the Minister for Local Government opposing the move to mandate three waters reform and urging her to include communities in decision-making to help build back trust eroded by the current process.

In the letter sent to Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Council has urged that she “demonstrate leadership and transparency in the delivery of this reform programme and re-establish a full programme of meaningful engagement with New Zealanders before taking any further steps.”

Mayor Jim Boult confirmed that he and his fellow elected members felt compelled to express their significant disappointment and to uphold their collective commitment to oppose a Government mandate strongly and actively.

“This Council is in no way questioning the need for safe drinking water, to protect our precious environment and ensure effective Māori partnership as expressed through these proposed reforms,” the Mayor said.

“Our own commitment can be seen in the significant investment the Council is making in its 2021-2031 Ten Year Plan with more than $750M allocated to water supply, wastewater and storm water.

“But public and stakeholder consultation needs to remain at the heart of such important decisions. These reforms have the potential to affect generations to come and should be underpinned by meaningful and genuinely open engagement,” said Mayor Boult.

The Council position also reflected that the programme for reform needs to be re-designed to tackle three waters, resource management and the Future for Local Government review.

“We will continue to support LGNZ in its work with government and contribute to the optimum three waters solution for this generation and future generations. We would therefore urge you not to mandate the transfer of council assets, to remain open to different reform options, and to actively adopt a pathway towards implementation that allows communities to formally participate in the decision-making on the future of their 3 water assets. This will help to build back part of the trust which has been most recently eroded,” the Council’s letter to the Minister stated.

A copy of the letter to Minister Mahuta can be found on the QLDC website here: https://qldc02w1.azurewebsites.net/media/b33foisl/21-12-23-letter-to-min-mahuta-3w-reform-final.pdf

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