Auckland mayor Wayne Brown asks Watercare, council to stop work on Three Waters

6:12 pm on 17 October 2022
Wayne Brown

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown says Three Water is a "doomed proposal". Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has asked the city's water management company and council boss to stop work on Three Waters.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Brown said he had promised during his election campaign that he would stop the central government's proposal.

The plan would take water services out of the hands of councils and create four publicly-owned companies to cover the country.

"In more than 300 campaign events, I detected no support for it [Three Waters] at all among Aucklanders. I promised in the election campaign to stop it," Brown wrote to Watercare chairperson Margaret Devlin.

Brown believed stopping this work could mean water charges and rates stayed "as low as possible" in return.

"It is not in the best interests of Watercare, its shareholder or its customers for it to spend any more money on the doomed proposal - and that is also true of Auckland Council," he said.

"What money Watercare or Auckland Council might have spent on Three Waters should be returned to Auckland households in the form of lower water charges and rates than would otherwise be charged."

Former Auckland mayor Phil Goff was also opposed to the government's plan, saying it would diminish accountability and responsiveness but at the same time feared losing the opportunity for change because of disagreement over the governance.

"There needs to be reform of water and we stand by that - we just don't like the government's model that they've created for Auckland which in our view is unnecessary," Goff said.

Brown's letter to Devlin also requested that the council organisation "maintain a focus on the delivery of your core services in accordance with the council's expectations".

He wrote he would be setting out his expectations formally in a Statement of Intent, but said he had no plans for "any substantial changes" to organisation's operations.

"As mayor, I expect that you will not be unnecessarily spending your resources on assisting or preparing for Three Waters reforms that are unlikely to happen. That is also true of Auckland Council to which I have given the same advice."

Brown had also campaigned on replacing the directors of major council-controlled agencies, pledging to bring the organisations back directly under the council's control.

The boss of council development arm Eke Panuku pushed back, saying the council-controlled organisations answered to the council, not the mayor.

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