A government in jackboots
A recent headline echoes the current mood of this now fed-up country, with Sir Russell Coutts, five-times the America’s Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist, claiming the New Zealand government is turning into a dictatorship. His claim is now widely echoed, including by Don Brash, a former Governor of the Reserve Bank and subsequent leader of the National Party.
New Zealanders are increasingly showing they have had enough of a Prime Minister who promised to govern for all New Zealanders but is acting like a dictator, passing authoritarian laws and turning our democracy into what is becoming perilously close to a totalitarian state. It is no surprise that Jacinda Ardern’s poll rating is plummeting. The Three Waters Reform Programme is producing a near national revolt, the straw breaking the camel’s back. Her government’s plan to compulsorily impose a three-water infrastructure – freshwater, wastewater and storm-water services – breaks the promise made to councils that joining the scheme would be voluntary. Not to put too fine a point on it, Labour lied. Gone already is the 2020 election promise that ‘Labour will ensure the majority decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset’.
The forced imposition of the Three Waters policy is a big step towards implementing the He Puapua agenda, aiming for two governments, one under iwi control for part-Maori, the other by all other New Zealanders. However, the latter may well include the majority of part-Maori descent, by no means sympathetic to the power-grab of an aggressive minority obsessed by one-part only of their racial background. The 50 per cent quasi-tribal, i.e. iwi control of the three waters is to be by radicalised activists whom the Ardern government consistently prioritises in its decision-making. Her initial claim to be ‘a consensus politician’ has been shown to be risible.
So too, has been a puerile, $3.5 million television advertising campaign, depicting absurd cartoon people and animals with a commentary to persuade the gullible that ‘the government is working to ensure Kiwis can keep drinking tap water’. For example, ‘Imagine Aotearoa without good water. That’d be rude as, eh? That’s why we’re working with councils to make sure it doesn’t happen for real. So now, instead of them (sic) having to shoulder this burden, we’re grouping them together to keep everybody on the path of better all round water. So our trout will be happy, undies can still be togs, and best of all us (sic) Kiwis can keep drinking water straight from the tap, so how about that?’ Another version tells ‘what a stink as place that would be… how showers would be a complete waste of time and awa (which apparently means rivers) would be ‘all filthy with slime’ – showing green liquid coming from a pipe with a thermometer in its month.
This offensive, sub-literate nonsense was rejected by angry councils as casting a slur on the services they provide. It was also described as crossing the line ‘into a propaganda campaign spreading untruths’. Its offensiveness has been regarded as a patronising insult to New Zealanders. The Labour government’s ongoing racist undertakings have been spearheaded not only by its Maori party coalition members, but by well-heeled academics aiming for a minority of part-Maori New Zealanders to co-govern the country – with special privileges and control over most other institutions – aided by a handful of apparently activist judges. Its reported intention is to use the water assets which belonged to ratepayers to raise a $160 billion loan, doubling our national debt. Local bodies’ water assets are to be transferred from local, i.e. community ownership, into one of four new, large-scale entities. Combined councils collectively are to have a 50 per cent ownership stake, with 50 per cent to be handed to iwi on the basis of tribal claims. Councils themselves will have no say in any decision-making. Nelson, for example, will be required to hand over a $616 million asset.
It is well recognised that the Three Waters Reforms has been an attempt by stealth to remove ratepayers’ control of their assets, with a marked emphasis on putting more power and wealth in the hands of that small minority only of part-Maori whose appetite for both is apparently insatiable. This power grab, encouraged by our consistently anti-democratic Prime Minister, was rejected by 42 of the country’s 60 councils, with some signalling an intention to drop their membership of the LGNZ (Local Government Organisation of New Zealand). If the reforms were genuinely about improving water quality, by no means a nationwide problem, there are far simpler and more effective options, as has been pointed out. One would be for the government to partner 50-50 with councils on expenditure.
As the well-supported Taxpayers Union notes, individual councils will have no direct influence, shareholding, nor formal stake in the new entity. The government’s own peer review refuted the claim of savings which do not even consider the financial implications of co-governance – and, in essence, overall control by iwi. There is no limit on how much the unelected entities can charge for water services, nor stopping any groups charging water royalties. There is no requirement for councils to reduce rates to reflect the fact they will no longer supply services. The four layers of the proposed bureaucracy will separate ratepayers from the new water entities. Combined councils will join with iwi to appoint a regional body – which will appoint a selection panel – which will appoint the entity board. This unfathomably complicated planning has been well described as sheer madness, with Treasury targeting regulatory complexity and warning the government against imposing a prescriptive policy.
The National party has pointed out the government has ignored this advice, with the supposed benefits and cost savings unrealistic. It has pledged to reverse this legislation if it forms the next government. Already the fightback has begun with television and radio advertisements – even a banner-flying plane drawing attention to what is at stake. With planning for a nationwide protest well under way, New Zealanders are at last beginning to claim back this country.
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