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Greens warn public about Local Govt Bill

The Government is using urgency to ram through a controversial bill that will allow for the privatisation of New Zealand's water supplies, the Green Party warned today.

The Local Government 2002 Amendment Bill will go through all its stages and pass into law under urgency.

"The Government is hoping that by ramming the Bill through in the dead of the night, the public won't notice that the Bill opens New Zealand up to water privatisation," Green Party Local Government spokesperson Sue Kedgley said.

The Bill will allow Councils to enter into 35 year contracts with private corporations to run their water services, and will allow private corporations to own and control water infrastructure for 35 years.

Ms Kedgley said that the Bill also guts the consultation requirements of the Local Government Act.

"It will allow Councils to contract out the management and even ownership of water infrastructure without the inconvenience of having to consult with the public.

"Water is a precious resource and an essential for the health and well-being of New Zealanders.

"Everyone has a right to access safe, clean water. But private corporations have no interest in ensuring that water services are universally available or of high quality.

"Their interest is in maximising profits to their shareholders," Ms Kedgley said.

Ms Kedgley said that the Bill would set a financial cap on Councils.

"The aim of financial caps is to make Councils cash strapped, so they are forced to corporatize basic services. Cities that have them, like Colorado, cannot afford to have all their streetlights on at once and rely on taxi drivers to report crimes because the police are so inadequately funded."

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