Alliance will stave off any attempt to soften moves to ban local body water privatisation

  • Sandra Lee
Local Government

Local Government Minister and Deputy Leader of the Alliance Sandra Lee says the party will vigorously oppose any move to soften government proposals to ban the privatisation of local body water supply and wastewater services.
"This is the first time in the history of local government legislation that local authorities have been prohibited from privatising their water services. I said on the introduction of the Local Government Bill 2001 last month that access to water is not a commodity but a fundamental human right," said Ms Lee.
"I am advised some local authority figures may regard Clause 129 in the Bill as the toughest anti-privatisation measure ever inserted into local government legislation."
Ms Lee said Clause 129 stated that a territorial local authority that was providing water supply and wastewater services once the Bill was passed into law later this year "must continue to do so and must maintain its capacity to do so".
The Bill also stated that local bodies "must not transfer ownership or control" of significant water assets to anyone unless they are council-controlled, and they are also banned from privatising the ownership of such council-controlled bodies.
"There are no ifs or buts or maybes around the words 'must' and 'must not', " Ms Lee said.
"I don't want to pre-empt the recommendations of the Local Government and Environment select committee which is now considering the entire Bill, but it is only fair to signal the Alliance is drawing a line in the sand on this issue."
"I am advised that some submissions are likely to be made to the select committee aimed at trying to soften or remove the anti-water-privatisation measures. The committee will make its recommendations in due course."
Submissions on the Bill close on 22 February 2002.

Attachment: Clause 129 Local Government Bill 2001

Restrictions on exiting from certain services

129 Restrictions on exit from delivery of water supply and
wastewater services
(1) A territorial authority that provides, at the commencement of
this section, water supply and wastewater services within its
district must continue to do so and must maintain its capacity
to do so.
(2) A territorial authority must not—
(a)transfer ownership or control to a person that is not a
council-controlled organisation of significant assets
involved in providing water supply and wastewater ser-
vices; or
(b)divest to another person that is not a council-controlled
organisation any significant asset that is owned by the
territorial authority or a council-controlled organisation
and that is involved in providing water supply and was-
tewater services; or
(c)divest to another person that is not a council-controlled
organisation any ownership or interest in a council-
controlled organisation that is involved in providing
water supply and wastewater services.
(3)This section does not prevent—
(a)the sale or divesting of assets that are no longer required
to maintain the capacity to provide water supply and
wastewater services; or
(b)contracts for the management of parts of the system for
water supply or wastewater services if—
(i)the contract is not for the management of the
system as a whole; or
(ii)the contract is for the management of the system
as a whole, but not for a term longer than
15 years; or
(c)a joint venture for the construction or management of
reticulated water supply, sewerage, or sewage treatment
networks if the ownership of the assets remains with the
territorial authority; or
(d)2 or more territorial authorities or council-controlled
organisations arranging to combine the management
and operation of services for reticulated water supply,
sewerage, or sewage treatment.
(4) In this section,-
wastewater services includes sewerage, sewage treatment,
and stormwater drainage
water supply means the supply of drinking water to house-
holds and businesses.