INDEPENDENT NEWS

National Day of Action Against Water Privatisation

Published: Fri 11 Jun 2010 02:54 PM
National Day of Action Against Water Privatisation
"A bold call for citizens all over New Zealand, to rally outside their Council Chambers from 12 noon till 2pm on Saturday 12 June, to show their opposition to water privatisation, has been taken up!
'Stop privatisation - no corporate control over our water!' protest rallies will be held outside all the major City Councils, including Auckland, North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau, Hamilton, Wellington, Hutt, and Dunedin.
(Christchurch are having their rally on Sunday 13 June, to coincide with the previously-arranged demonstration to be held on Sunday 13th June, 3pm Cathedral Square, www.ourwaterourvote.org.nz)
Protest rallies will also be held outside Franklin, Thames-Coromandel, and the Kapiti Coast District Councils," says Penny Bright, Media Spokesperson for the Auckland-based Water Pressure Group.
"This National /ACT Government would be wise not to underestimate the depth and breadth of public opposition to proposed legislative changes which would make it easier for water multinationals to own, operate and manage New Zealand water services - the key clauses being:
" s. 31of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill provides that a local government organisation may enter into contracts for the provision of water services for a period of up to 35 years instead of 15 years; and
s.3 2 where a local government organisation enters into a joint arrangement for the provision of water services it must continue to be responsible for providing the water services:
"However, the local government organisation no longer has to retain control over the management of the water services or ownership of all of the infrastructure associated with the water services throughout the joint arrangement."
[Bills Digest Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill]"
Copies of submissions that people can sign on the day will be made available at these rallies, which will then be collected and sent down to Parliament before the 18 June 2010
closing date.
(The sting in the tail of the 'submission' prepared by the Water Pressure Group, is:
"I hereby give notice that if my Council considers contracting out water services to the private sector - I will consider disputing and refusing to pay those water /wastewater rates." )
Nationally, these rallies are being politically supported by Labour and Green Parties,and Grey Power. Water privatisation is also opposed by the Maori Party, and New Zealand First.
A 'best practice' example of civic leadership is being shown by the North Shore City Council - who not only have endorsed this "National Day of Action' against water privatisation - but have convened a public meeting - on Saturday 12 June, starting 11.30am, at the Concourse, North Shore City Council building, The Strand, Takapuna,
(if raining: RSA Hall, adjacent to the Concourse), to discuss the future of their ratepayer-owned water services under the Auckland super-city and changes to the Local Government Act 2002.
http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/YourCouncil/News/LatestNews/Pages/20100608-PublicMeetingOnWaterPrivatisation.aspx
"Since it's inception in July 1998, the Water Pressure Group has 'blown the whistle until our eyeballs bleed' to warn the public about the secret corporate agenda to privatise Auckland regional services," continued Ms Bright.
"The Water Pressure Group believes that the legislative changes proposed by this Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill will make it easier for multinational water companies such as United Water to effectively gain control of water services in New Zealand. (United Water is 100% owned by Veolia Water – the world’s largest multinational water company).
The proposed legislative changes to the Local Government Act 2002 are completely interwined with the Auckland 'SUPERCITY' legislation - the objective being to commercialise, corporatise then privatise water services.
First CCOs (Council controlled Organiations) - then PPPs (Public Private Partnerships)."
(A radio interview of Penny Bright by Tim Lynch, Green Planet FM, spelling out out in detail the links between water privatisation and the proposed Auckland 'Supercity' is available here:
<http://www.greenplanetfm.com/members/greenradio/blog/VIEW+00000001+00000098> )
"The Water Pressure Group finds it outrageous that Graham Wood, former Managing Director of United Water, South Australia, (now employed by the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA), is currently leading the ‘integration’ of Auckland regional water services, which we believe is for a future takeover by United Water," continued Ms Bright.
"Where is the 'transparency' in appointing known water privatisers to such pivotal positions? If New Zealand is the 'least corrupt country in the world' - how on earth could this happen?"
After discovering that United Water South Australia had been taken to Court by the South Australian Government, the allegation being that South Australian ‘customers’ were allegedly overcharged through the transferring of ‘corporate overhead costs’ arising from United Water’s NZ operations, the following petition 2008/60, initiated by Ms Bright, was presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009:
“Requesting that the House of Representatives do not implement any legislative changes to the Local Government Act 2002 which would make it easier to privatise water services via changes to 'contracting out', and 'Public Private Partnership' (PPP) provisions, until a full and thorough independent investigation of the pricing practices of private water company United Water's seven contracts in New Zealand has been undertaken.”
– and referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, where it is still an 'Item of business.
Evidence has been presented by Ms Bright to the local Government and Environment Select Committee in support of this Petition:
http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/Documents/Evidence/5/a/f/49SCLGE_EVI_49DBHOH_PET2996_1_A47173-Penny-Bright.htm
"We believe that it is those representing the major snouts lining up for those private PPP contracts - such as the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID) - who have been the main ones pushing for this legislative change - not the councils or the public.
The message from concerned members of the public and elected representatives at tomorrow's protest rallies across New Zealand will be loud and clear.
'Stop privatisation! No corporate control over our water!' ", concluded Ms Bright.
ENDS

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