Chris Trotter has an intellect and insight I truly respect but his article on 29 November ‘Has Labour Become a Co-Governance Party?’ is strong on imagery and historical sound bites but light on 3 Waters.
Firstly, 3 Waters is not just about co-governance. It is about rescuing the New Zealand people from our local bodies inability to look after, or afford to look after our water infrastructure. People have died and others damaged health from poor quality water. Some areas just can’t afford the rates to upgrade sewage systems.
The current local body practice of borrowing against the asset value of the water infrastructure just to run local bodies and their pet business friendly projects is just setting up a rates nightmare into the future. They aren’t spending the borrowings just on waters. These borrowings risk our water assets being sold in the future to overseas entities to pay for debts local bodies can’t sustain. And those foreign entities will charge through the nose for an essential service like water and sewerage.
3 waters is a vital, well thought out in its principles, vision of how to look after New Zealanders. Real people helped and everyone will benefit. The assets are simply transferred from a local level to a National/regional level in terms of accountability. Nothing is stolen as local communities continue to have full use of the infrastructure. And they have as much democratic input as currently.
This is why 3 waters is being done.
Co-Governance is at the very least a simple recognition of the private property rights clearly written into the Treaty. The english wrote the treaty and they were clearly thinking of it as giving Maori private property rights, and all the rights of British subjects to have those protected with an extension to include even communally owned property, which includes waters. Maori owned the water just like some businesses do today. Tribes have property rights over waters, at the least.
Equal representation on regional boards is a simply recognition of those property rights, and Treaty rights. If the boards start disadvantaging people there would be a media response on the practical event and what was happening. There would be accountability through a national response.
Chris heralds electoral doom for Labour, and this may be true but on the point of 3 Waters it would be because of rampant misinformation and hysteria.
Where is the threat to democracy? Nobody’s vote is removed. Because if 3 waters which protects private property rights in an equal partnership of Maori and other New Zealanders is somehow anti-democratic then where are all the other articles about private property rights destroying democracy. I’m sorry Chris but your article was too light on detail about what the problem is. It just promotes electoral fear.
Note: Current Labour like Helen Clark did with the Foreshore and Seabed, is not standing up to rebut the crazy ideas. It looks weak, as if you aren’t sure of the rightness of your position. It makes the other side look right. It lets the alternative narrative and facts fill the gap. Labour should be leading in this issue from the top at every press conference to rebut every misleading story or feature. And repeat the benefits of three waters.