The Jackal: April 2022

13 Apr 2022

National flounders over Three Waters reforms

Clearly the National Party thinks it’s onto a winner with its campaign against the Government's Three Waters legislation. They’ve even been promoting the current leader, Christopher Luxon (who in 2018 appeared to endorse the very same reforms he now opposes) with photo opportunities of him putting up anti Three Waters billboards.

The problem for National and Luxon in particular is that barely a week goes by without another report concerning sewage overflowing onto New Zealand streets or towns having to cope with unsafe tap water.

What Luxon doesn't seem to realise is that Kiwis have been getting very sick and even dying because of their contaminated drinking water. But instead of National providing any real policy ideas about how to actually fix things, Luxon is busy making a fool of himself by splashing out on stupid hoardings for an election that could still be 21 months away. In fact the blue "teams" promise to repeal Three Waters and effectively replace it with nothing is likely to turn away National's potential audience during the campaign proper.

That’s why the Labour Government and their Three Waters legislation will become the default choice for most voters. Not because it’s particularly imaginative or transformative, but because there isn't even a remote sign of the opposition providing any alternative policy to ensure people have adequate and safe water supplies.

Last Friday, RNZ reported:

National pledges to repeal three waters legislation if elected

National is stepping up its campaign against the government's contentious three waters legislation, as people fed up with a Canterbury town's dirty drinking water plead for a quick fix.

The Opposition party has nailed a billboard in the Waimakiriri district advertising its pledge to repeal the laws, under which the government would take control of drinking, waste and storm water services and assets from local councils.

In the neighbouring Selwyn district, water the colour of weak tea still runs from the taps in the town of Springfield.

A father, who did not want to be named, said the water was so discoloured his family had not filled a glass for months.

"You wouldn't boil it and drink it, it still remains tea-coloured. We've been drinking out of plastic bottles for months," he said.


Whilst their negative campaign might appeal to some farmers and a few of their drunken Councillor mates, it’s unlikely to elicit much if any significant support from the wider community. This is because the vast majority of Kiwis realise that something needs to be done about our dilapidated water infrastructure.

By claiming that cash strapped Councils will suddenly do their jobs properly if the public campaigns for improved water infrastructure, Luxon has badly misread the room. Not only is he choosing another hill to die on, the optics of Luxon promoting a do nothing strategy while there are reports of unsafe tap water making people unwell is terribly revealing. In fact it's a misstep of monumental proportions.

If Luxon and his advisors cannot even keep up to date with current affairs, particularly when we're talking about the health and wellbeing of the population, how exactly can they be trusted to run the entire country? The obvious answer is that they aren't an effective or trustworthy opposition and wouldn't be an effective or trustworthy government either.