It is a disappointment but no surprise to me that the Government has announced that it has decided to force through the Three Waters Reforms.
All the major political parties agree that reforms in the Three Waters space are needed and that the status quo no longer exists. Regrettably, a complete failure by the Government to explain to the public why it believes reform is needed, far less why it believed its model is the best one, led to a knowledge gap that was filled by misinformation.
That combination of an info vacuum and rampant misinformation has led to an entirely predictable and understandable public backlash. That, in turn, in my view has been a significant factor that has led the Government to a choice between calling the whole thing off or forcing it through; and as I say, I am not surprised it has taken the latter option.
So, where to from here? What is the best way forward for a district of 24,000 people? There is much temptation to shout from the highest rooftop about the unfairness of this outcome, but there will be plenty of mayors doing that, I am sure. However, given the clear stand the Government has taken on this matter, I question whether doing so, while expressing what many in Central Otago undoubtedly feel, will serve us well in the long run.
That there is a Working Group to be formed to continue to work on crucial parts of the proposal gives some hope that councils’ voices will still be heard in refining what we have been given. It is good to hear that there will be further discussions around some of the concerns raised by your and other councils through a Working Group and that there will be smaller council representation on that group.
There is still a lot of work that can be done to try to influence much needed changes to the final outcome, especially from a rural perspective such as ours, and that is where I intend to put my focus and energy.
Tim Cadogan, Central Otago Mayor