Christopher Luxon says councils responsible for rate rise decisions under Government's alternative Three Waters plan

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says any potential rate rises under the Government's alternative plan to Three Waters will remain "a decision for local councils".  

The Government on Monday confirmed the controversial Three Waters reforms were being scrapped in favour of "Local Water Done Well". The Coalition said its reforms would ensure drinking water, stormwater and wastewater stayed in local hands.  

Labour, which introduced Three Waters, believed the Coalition's plan would result in rates rises across New Zealand.

Kieran McAnulty, the Local Government spokesperson for Labour, said it was "certain" Kiwis would pay higher rates under the Coalition's plan.  

"The cost of fixing our broken water infrastructure is estimated at $185 billion over just three decades. It is simply irresponsible of National to ignore the problem," McAnulty said in a statement.  

"Instead of helping councils deal with water infrastructure, they're kicking it back on residents and homeowners and washing their hands of a problem that needs a long-term solution.  

"Councils can't do this by themselves but this is exactly where the Government has left them - without any support."  

While Local Government Minister Simeon Brown said on Monday the Coalition's reforms would "set out provisions relating to long-term requirements for financial sustainability, provide for a complete economic regulation regime and a new range of structural and financing tools", Luxon on Tuesday told AM any rate rise decisions remained "a decision for local councils" and council-controlled organisations.  

"All I'd just say to you is, this is the most efficient way of doing it when you compare the status quo - which is leaving it to councils to fund within their existing arrangements and balance sheets - that doesn't work," Luxon told host Lloyd Burr. "Equally, when you've actually got these 10 mega, highly bureaucratic co-government entities - which is what the previous Government was proposing - that doesn't work."  

He's standing by his Government's plan, saying he wouldn't take "economic lessons from Labour".  

"You've seen massive bureaucracies built out of here - in Wellington - and that's exactly what was happening with those water entities," Luxon said of Three Waters. "Adding extra costs to consumers - that's not right. We want these things the right size, we want councils to be able to access the long-term debt funding... that is the most-efficient way to deal with it."  

ACT leader David Seymour, a Coalition partner, said he was glad to see the back of Three Waters.  

"Centralisation, co-governance and a waste of taxpayers' money - one Labour policy hit the trifecta and that was Three Waters.  

"They were taking many assets many communities had built up over generations and centralising them under a few people's power."  

Taxpayers would cough up $1.2 billion for the implementation and subsequent repeal of Three Waters