The government has put distribution of $25m in cyclone business support funding in the hands of local agencies, while National’s alternative to Three Waters returns control to councils, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
Funding for business recovery to be distributed locally
Half of the initial $50m cyclone business support package will be given to local agencies to distribute. Minister for cyclone recovery Grant Robertson announced the package during a visit to Tairāwhiti on Sunday. As Stuff’s Luke Malpass writes, the government “has been at pains to make sure its response appears driven by local people, while it provides the cash they need.” Before the funding announcement Robertson met with council, iwi and business leaders from the region on Sunday for what one participant described as a “listening session”.
New plan for “local water done well” plan from National
Speaking at the Bluegreens forum on Saturday, Christopher Luxon added some detail to the party’s well established position of repealing the government’s Three Waters reforms. The plan, called “Local Water Done Well”, dumps the centralisation feature of Three Waters and returns control of water assets to councils. Malpass writes that “ the plan seeks to retain the advantages of two of the main design features of Three Waters – water services separated from the rest of the councils’ balance sheets and discretion; and the ability to raise long-term debt freed from other council decisions – while also aiming to consolidate water management (albeit voluntarily).”
Plan doesn’t outline how much doing local water well costs
In a pretty blunt assessment, The Herald’s Claire Trevett writes (paywalled) that the proposal appears to be “a political response to try to capitalise on the backlash to Labour’s plan than a considered look at what was actually needed and what would work”. The plan does not outline “how much doing local water well might cost compared to Labour’s way – and hence how much ratepayers might expect to bear of that burden.” National’s local government spokesperson Simon Watts told Q+A, “our policy position will be cheaper than Labour’s” and that under the model “rates are not going to increase.” Local government minister Kieran McAnulty disputed that claim immediately.
The climate change election?
While you could look at water infrastructure through a climate change adaptation lens, the announcement at the Bluegreens forum wasn’t really a seizing of an opportunity to launch climate change policy. Newsroom’s Nikki Mandow described the agenda for the forum as “unambitious”and a massive missed opportunity. “Everyone loves a giant weta breeding programme but we urgently need grunty environmental policy from the party that might lead us from October,” she wrote. Former Green MP Gareth Hughes has suggested all the party’s need to get ready for the “climate change” election. Speaking to climate change psychologists, the Herald’s Jamie Morton (paywalled) has a great read on whether recent events will really change our expectations of lawmakers and polluters on climate change action.