Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has called for a halt on all Three Waters work and appointed a former New Zealand First MP as an advisor, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.
Auckland mayor Wayne Brown “wags” mayor school, calls for halt to Three Waters work
Many of the country’s mayors have been attending “mayor school” in Wellington this week. As RNZ’s Checkpoint reports, it isn’t compulsory and mayors of metropolitan areas typically “wag”. New Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger and Wellington mayor Tory Whanau are attending. Auckland’s new mayor Wayne Brown isn’t attending this year, instead concentrating on moving swiftly to action campaign promises to stop the Three Waters reforms. Last night Brown released a letter sent to Watercare, Auckland council’s water company, advising that all work on Three Waters should stop.
Hard rock, soft rock
Brown’s letter to the chair of Watercare was released to the media but he is still reluctant to front the media, declining to be interviewed on RNZ’s Morning Report this morning. On the campaign trail, Brown repeatedly criticised the reforms, saying Watercare is a business that works well. Brown has previously criticised the modelling of the reforms on Scotland’s water reform as “just dumb”, saying “Scotland has hard rock geology, we have soft rock geology, Scotland has no erosion, we have erosion, Scotland has very simple geography and about four catchments, we have thousands of catchments”.
Better off funding contingent on cooperation once legislation passed
Auckland Council has included $127m in the government’s Better Off funding in its 2022/23 budget. Described by Newsroom’s Jono Milne as a sweetener to persuade councils to take part in the Three Waters reforms, the Better Off funding isn’t contingent on councils supporting the reforms. The funding agreement does include some obligations that councils must adhere to including councils collaborating and cooperating with the Department of Internal Affairs “in its undertaking of the activities required to give effect to Three Waters reform legislation, when passed.”
Brown appoints former New Zealand First MP as adviser
Yesterday it was confirmed that Jenny Marcroft has been appointed as an interim advisor to Brown in the Auckland mayor’s office. Marcroft was a New Zealand First (NZF) MP between 2017 and 2020. Marcroft resigned from the party in 2021 and joined the Labour party. Politik’s Richard Harman writes about Marcroft’s return to NZF. Marcroft attended NZF’s annual general meeting over the weekend where leader Winston Peters described Three Waters as “retarded theft”. He clarified later he meant the term in the mechanical sense of “stopping progress”. As Harman writes, Shane Jones has described the new Auckland mayor as “the New Zealand First friend”. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern will meet Brown on Thursday.