National will scrap 'undemocratic and unworkable' Three Waters if elected

National says it will scrap the controversial Three Waters model if it is elected at the next election. 

In a statement on Saturday National leader Christopher Luxon called the policy "undemocratic and unworkable" and it would be replaced with a sustainable system that ensures drinking water, stormwater and wastewater remain in local control, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

"The sub-standard status quo where pipes are too often allowed to fail, creating pollution, wastage and massive bills for ratepayers, will not be allowed to continue under a National Government,” Luxon said.

"But the answer is not Labour’s unpopular Three Waters scheme that the Government has pushed through Parliament. It will take assets off local communities, transferring them to  four mega-entities that no-one asked for, no-one wants and that have mandatory co-governance.

"Instead, a National Government will set and enforce strict water quality standards and require councils to invest in the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their vital water infrastructure, while keeping control of the assets that their ratepayers have paid for.

National will: 

  • Repeal Three Waters and scrap the four co-governed mega-entities

  • Restore council ownership and control

  • Set strict rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure

  • Ensure water services are financially sustainable

"Under National, councils will be required to demonstrate a clear plan to deliver ongoing investment in water infrastructure. Those plans will need to be approved by the Minister of Local Government.

“While water quality regulator Taumata Arowai will set strict standards for water quality, National will establish a Water Infrastructure Regulator within the Commerce Commission to set and enforce standards for long-term water infrastructure investment.

"Councils will be required to ringfence money for water infrastructure and not spend it on other services instead.

"National’s plan supports greater access for councils to long-term borrowing, which is an appropriate way to fund long-life water infrastructure. One way to improve access to borrowing would be for neighbouring councils to form Regional Council Controlled Organisations. Ultimately, it is up to the councils but we would envisage it is likely a number of regional groups will emerge to deliver better water services.

“Financial sustainability will enable the long-term investment in infrastructure that will deliver the quality drinking water, cleaner rivers and swimmable beaches that New Zealanders want and expect.

"Resilient, well-maintained, future-proofed modern infrastructure will also mean communities can better cope with mounting pressures due to climate change and accommodate housing growth that is currently being stymied by a lack of infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater services.

"Under National, water stays in local hands and investment in water infrastructure is secured so that New Zealanders can be sure their water is safe and affordable."