When the Prime Minister first took office in 2017, she promised that “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.” However, it is obvious her Minister of Local Government did not receive the memo. This is being shown by the less than transparent way the proposed Three Waters service delivery programme is being handled by the Government. Councillors across the country are complaining of false and misleading information, mixed messaging, information gaps, and far too many unanswered questions. Although not obliged to make the final decision whether to opt-out of the scheme until later in the year, Councils had until today, 1st October, to get back to the Government on the proposed reforms. After receiving this feedback, the Minister will be presenting advice to Cabinet about the next steps.
The Three Waters programme is clearly very unpopular, both with the public and most councils. Comments show overwhelming opposition based on several serious concerns. Despite this, Minister Mahuta has not ruled out forcing councils into the reforms. Unfortunately for us, she has form in this area, having earlier this year trampled on our democratic rights by ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to abolish the right of ratepayers to veto decisions by councils to establish Māori wards.
You can read more about this issue in the article below – ‘BACKLASH GROWS AGAINST 3-WATERS SERVICE DELIVERY PROGRAMME’ - which includes suggestions of ways you can join the fight to defeat this patently undemocratic proposal.
In a move showing further disregard for local democracy, this week the Government introduced legislation that extends COVID-19 powers for an additional 12 months from May 2022 to May 2023 and which includes a clause giving the Government the power to delay the 2022 local body elections all the way into 2023. Speculation is rife as to why the Government is seeking the opportunity to delay next year’s elections, given that postal voting is available in many areas. A clue could be the upcoming local government reforms.
The COVID-19 legislation includes another very contentious amendment, which is arguably even more concerning. This legislation is set to legitimise the self-declared iwi “border controls”. Māori & Pasifika wardens, a nominated representative of an iwi organisation, or community patrollers will have the legal authority to run roadblocks/checkpoints. This will need to be done under the supervision of a constable, however, no clarification of what is meant by supervision is provided in the legislation.
Please note that the local government representation reviews for the 2022 elections are coming to an end, but there is still time in some areas to have a say. Any person or organisation can make a submission on a council’s proposal. If no submissions are received, the proposals become the basis for election at the next two triennial elections. Please check your council’s website for information, but you had better be quick as the closing dates for making submissions are fast approaching – if not already passed in some cases. (Rotorua Lakes Council community feedback option closes 8 October).
In relation to another issue we have been working on, I'd like to bring your attention to a new website that you may be interested in following – ‘Real NZ history’. This website “is an attempt to help the average New Zealander tiptoe through this epic minefield of propaganda and hopefully emerge with some semblance of the truth”. It is well worth a read, especially considering the imminent introduction of an ideologically driven NZ history curriculum into schools. Some of us made submissions on the curriculum content earlier year, but a report recently released by the Ministry of Education shows many of our pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Read more about this in the following article ‘NO REAL CHANGES TO THE RADICAL DRAFT NEW ZEALAND ‘HISTORIES’ CURRICULUM’.
By the way, did you know that we have Maui to thank for daylight saving? See the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) media release Maui: The Father Of Daylight Saving And no, it’s not April 1st! DIA is the government department we have to thank for the proposed Three Waters programme. Given the criticism that the plan is based on 'deeply flawed ideology,' promoting myths may well be the modus operandi of this government department.
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