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Mike's Minute: We are liable for the Three Waters debt, not the Government

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Feb 2023, 10:44AM
Photo / Neil Reid
Photo / Neil Reid

Mike's Minute: We are liable for the Three Waters debt, not the Government

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Feb 2023, 10:44AM

I've been reading about Three Waters over the weekend.

It’s a mess. We knew it was a mess but the headline grabbing aspect of the mess is around co-governance and how unpalatable that is to most of us.

Willie Jackson said as much last week. The argument has been lost, David Seymour and Christopher Luxon have successfully driven the discussion to a point where the Government doesn’t stand a chance.

So Kieran McAnulty is now in charge of, well, no one knows exactly what he is off doing, given he won't talk to us.

I assume it's dropping the co-governance part and trying to resurrect the water part.

But here's your next big hurdle, and it's what I think most of us haven't understood, who is liable? You know, for the bill.

We haven't understood because the question hasn’t been answered until now. But also, I suspect even if it had most of us haven't wandered into the weeds of this thing and got our head around it.

Some of the local bodies have, hence they’ve never liked it.

And the answer around the liability issue is now to be found in the Water Services Legislation Bill, it was stuck into Parliament just before Christmas. Remember, this whole project is covered by several bits of legislation

The answer around liability is another crime in a series of crimes.

It'll cost, by Government estimates, up to $180 billion. To borrow that you need some sort of assurance. And this is the rub - the Government wants to stick it on the ratepayer.

The Government covers none of it. Think about that.

The four water bodies simply tell lenders if it all goes wrong, we will use a property rating mechanism - in other words, you and me.

So the council have had their assets taken off them but the public are on the hook for the debt. And you wonder why councils don’t want a bar of it.

That’s before you get to the councils that have already invested in water and carry debt because of it, those councils that don’t actually have water issues at all.

What fool unilaterally has their investment and assets removed from them, handed over to a new body, partially or not, we are yet to see, run by Māori and then the debt liability is handed back to you. On top of the fact that the pricing of the project you have no control over.

And then you, as the council, are charged with collecting the money from the punter at a price agreed to with the water authority that may or may not suit you.

Have you ever seen a more bewildering one-sided cock up of an idea?

This alone is every reason you need to get rid of the Government. They're insane.

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