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John MacDonald: Three Waters money down the drain

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Oct 2023, 12:22PM
 Photo / Paul Taylor | File
Photo / Paul Taylor | File

John MacDonald: Three Waters money down the drain

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Oct 2023, 12:22PM

If you thought the election campaign lasted forever, it seems the counting of the special votes is taking forever too.

It’s also looking like this drawn-out process is going to cost a lot of money. Because it’s looking like Labour is going to keep the money tap running all the way until the bitter end.

It is nuts, even though it knows full-well that the incoming government wants to scrap the Three Waters reforms, that Labour seems to be turning a blind eye to truckloads of money still being spent on its reforms.

This is the situation where the boss of one of the big new water entities created as part of Three Waters is still recruiting for a whole lot of honchos.

He’s on the hunt for a chief financial officer, a chief operations officer, and six other executives to help him run the Water Services Entity for Northland and Auckland.

Even though he will know full-well that, if National is true to its word, the outfits he runs will be gone-burger by lunchtime. Well, not quite lunchtime, but scrapping Three Waters is certainly on National’s to-do list in its first hundred days. Whenever the first hundred days start.

But you know how it is in the public sector. Let’s just press-on until we receive different instructions from the powers-that-be. Which is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the public sector. Particularly when it comes to spending public money.

This is not a beat-up on the people in the public sector, by the way. Although I think the guy running the water authority who’s still going gung-ho hiring people, I think he needs to get real.

But I am definitely beating-up on the outgoing Labour government which is banging-on about wanting to deliver a seamless transfer of power to National and ACT and maybe New Zealand First too when the time comes.

But then, at the same time, is turning a blind eye to some of the spending that is still going on despite some significant changes that will come once that seamless transfer of power to Christopher Luxon and his crew happens.

I suppose if there’s any saving grace, it might be the people who would normally apply for these roles smelling the coffee, reading the tea leaves and seeing the writing on the wall, and not even bothering applying because they could be out of a job in a few months time.

But how nuts is it that this hiring process is still happening?

A similar kind of thing happened during the election campaign, when the crowd running the Auckland Light Rail project spent $33 million buying a commercial building because it wanted the land for train stations and other infrastructure.

$33 million spent, even though National was making it very clear that, if it won the election, it would be scrapping the whole project.

I suppose that, during an election, it’s a bit different because you don’t know who’s going to win and so the public sector does have to press-on as if it is business-as-usual.

But after the election? When you know that the government’s been rolled and when you know that the one about to take over is going to pull the plug on certain things?

For this spending still to be happening is, at the very least, a complete disregard for public money.

And the fact that the outgoing Labour government seems to be perfectly fine with it and obviously isn’t telling this guy to calm the farm, shows why so many people think Labour has spent so much for so little return.

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