NZ needs strong protection against water privatisation

New Zealanders deserve strong protection against the future privatisation of water assets, the Green Party says.

“The only way to guarantee a water secure future for our kids is to keep infrastructure and services in public ownership – and to protect this principle in law,” says the Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage. 

“The Greens and Labour amended the three waters legislation last week to provide an additional layer of protection against privatisation of three waters assets by a future government. The change would help ensure water services are managed in a way that benefits everyone and upholds Te Tirti o Waitangi.

“We agree that entrenchment should be done only for matters of utmost importance. Retaining the public ownership of water assets meets this threshold.

“We know from experience that once a critical infrastructure asset is privatised, or partially privatised, it is very hard to bring it back into public ownership. That’s why New Zealanders deserve additional protection for our three waters assets. If these additional protections are removed, New Zealand risks a future government privatising three waters assets with a simple majority.

“New Zealanders should be able to be confident water services will always remain in public ownership, regardless of who’s in Government. How best to protect essential public assets and services from privatisation is an important conversation. We’re glad to have started this discussion and hope it can continue.

“At the same time, New Zealanders should be extremely concerned about National’s track record on privatisation and be asking why they are so opposed to protecting public ownership of water assets in law. 

“National has a terrible track record of acting in their own self-interest - and not managing public assets for the benefits of everyone. The previous National Government, for example, brazenly ignored the result of a public referendum and went ahead and partially privatised state owned energy assets. 

“Water services are essential for communities, public health and wellbeing, better environmental outcomes, housing, and resilience to climate change and natural hazards. It is far better to make sure that any future decision to take these out of public management carries the support of a large majority of New Zealanders.

“The requirement that there be a 60 percent majority of Parliament in favour of any changes to the public ownership of water assets means the Government of the day would be required to build political support and consensus - preventing privatisation of precious water assets with a simple majority. This would be a democratic way of upholding the very strong public support for public ownership,” says Eugenie Sage.

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