Council’s rejection of a shared water services partnership with neighbouring
Hamilton City demonstrates, once again, the need for government intervention in
the funding, responsibilities and structure of domestic governance," says
Stephen Selwood Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.
"No fewer than
four independent expert analyses of water services in the Waikato have agreed
that it is in the best interests of residents of Waipa District to combine
their wastewater, water supply and stormwater services with Hamilton.
"Yet at the
political level, these clear, demonstrable and agreed benefits were
insufficient to persuade the majority of Waipa councillors to agree to partner
with their neighbours in the provision of water services.
example set by Wellington Water, which has demonstrated significant benefits
resulting from a jointly owned management company for its five council owners
in the Wellington region, this latest Waipa decision puts another nail in the
coffin for shared service arrangements between councils.
"The case for
change in water service delivery at a national level was clearly demonstrated
in Havelock North when 5000 people got sick from drinking contaminated water.
The subsequent inquiry identified “widespread systemic failure among water
suppliers to meet the high standards required for the supply of safe drinking
water to the public”.
"Yet, almost all
evidence to date, including rejection of Local Government Commission proposals
for consolidation in Northland, Wellington, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa, shows
that significant change will not come from within the local government sector,
no matter how beneficial.
"Local Government New Zealand's Reputation Index gives local government leadership, performance and communication a score of 28/100.
government is having to constantly put workarounds in place to fix tourism
infrastructure funding or growth investment financing. Auckland and other
growth cities are 70,000 homes short of the number required for their
populations, but they are not being built because there are not enough pipes
and roads in the ground.
"Major change is
needed at a national, local and regional level.
functions should not be left to local government, including overall
responsibility for environmental management and meeting the basic needs of New
Zealanders for food, healthy water and shelter.
"On the other hand
the ability of local communities to build the identity and sense of community
in their local areas must be strengthened.
"And in between, there
are decisions which need to be made which affect entire cities and their
surrounding areas, including water, transport and economic development. These
are regional in nature and require empowered regional decision making.
institutions with the resources and mandate to deliver services at the level at
which they impact communities are required.
"If the new
government is not prepared to lead fundamental reform itself, then a first
principles review by an independent and appropriately resourced commission is
the least it could do to identify solutions to longstanding deficiencies in New
Zealand’s planning, funding and governance system," Selwood says.
For further information and comment contact
Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209