Hundreds of people heard from National’s Three Waters spokesperson Simon Watts during four public meetings in Waimakariri last week.
Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey said he invited Watts to the electorate after being turned down by the select committee responsible for hearing New Zealanders’ views on the controversial reform.
“This legislation has sparked keen public interest, and clear opposition in this electorate – 95% of respondents to a local council survey said they want to opt out,” Doocey said.
“Close to 4000 submissions were received from Waimakariri residents in just three weeks, which shows the degree of local engagement in this issue.”
Doocey was joined by Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith in hosting Watts for the four public meetings, in Papanui, Oxford, Kaiapoi and Leithfield.
“People have seen the signs around the electorate saying National will repeal and replace Three Waters so it was good to explain this in more detail,” Doocey said.
Watts told residents National had plans for an alternative model in which local ownership of water assets would be retained, and private property rights respected.
Central government would work with individual councils to collaborate to improve water infrastructure in their area, including co-funding investment in their water assets.
While many of New Zealand’s 67 councils had invested well in their water infrastructure, Watts said there would be some which would need help to transition into a better space to deliver water for their community, and working with councils on a case-by-case basis made sense.
Doocey said people also raised concern about local voices being lost if Three Waters was centralised and run by four mega water entities.
“People have a valid reason to question why bureaucrats in Wellington think they know more about Waimakariri’s water assets than they do.”
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