A guest post by a reader:
Large numbers of well meaning people have been campaigning against Three Waters since it was announced. Unfortunately the government has done nothing to change its approach. This is not surprising. There have been no direct electoral consequences for any politician. Noise & PR campaigns can be ignored. Losing your job cannot. A far more direct approach is needed, where those holding elected positions see that they are likely to lose their positions if they do not change their policy. A direct, personal consequence sharpens the minds of politicians in a way that public meetings and protests do not. The general election is not until late next year, so Labour politicians are largely immune to the current campaigns against Three Waters.
The two opportunities to stop Three Waters through elections in 2022 are the local government elections in the spring, and the LGNZ conference at the end of July. Councillors in favour of Three Waters need to understand that they have to persuade their constituents if they want to get reelected. Campaigns against three waters supporters at the council elections are likely to have an impact. The more immediate opportunity for the Local Government sector to show their disgust at Three Waters is for a council to move a motion of no confidence in the President of Local Government New Zealand, Stuart Crosby. Crosby sold out Local Government New Zealand by accepting money to work with the government on Three Waters, when as many as half of LGNZs member councils oppose it.
A vote of No Confidence in Crosby will show there are genuine consequences for supporting Three Waters, and that politicians will be held to account for imposing unpopular policies without the consent of their voters. Failure to deal with LGNZ selling out its constituent councils on Three Waters will embolden Labour to push for the second phase. Once councils lose their water assets they will have much less to do, so Labour will likely push through amalgamations, and impose co governance on amalgamated councils. LGNZ members need to seize the initiative away from the government and sack Stuart Crosby.
I have to say I was aghast when LGNZ (an organisation that has done much good work in the past) took money from central Government to promote Three Waters to Councils. The job of LGNZ is to represent Councils to the Government, not vice-versa. It was a monumentally bad decision.
Even if LGNZ thought that working with the Government to make a bad policy better was preferable to opposing it outright, they should have done that without signing a contract with the Government that required them to not oppose Three Waters. The loss of independence and integrity was massive.
So it will be interesting to see if Councils do hold anyone at LGNZ responsible.