New Zealand Government to remove entrenchment from Three Waters legislation

It was a mistake to put the entrenchment clause in and the Government will fix the issue, says Leader of the House Chris Hipkins

Auckland: The Government will fix the Water Services Entities Bill this week by removing the entrenchment clause that was voted on during committee stages, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins announced today.

“It was a mistake to put the entrenchment clause in and the Government will fix the issue as soon as the House resumes on Tuesday,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We will do this by sending the Water Services Entities Bill back to the Committee of the Whole to remove the entrenchment provision.

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“The Bill has just finished committee stages, so we can easily send it back and fix the issue before the final reading.

“The intention to protect assets from being sold was right, but entrenchment usually requires a super majority or seventy five percent of the parliament to vote for it.

“The approach in this amendment allowed an entrenchment provision to pass in a way that is not typical for parliament. That has wider ramifications that we are not comfortable with. That’s why we will fix the issue.

“It’s also important Parliament strengthens the rules around entrenchment generally to avoid this in the future.

“As such we will refer the wider matter to the Standing Orders Committee, where all parties are represented, in order to strengthen the protections for entrenchment provisions.

“We will ask the Committee to look at where entrenchment provisions are appropriate and what majority should be required for them.

“It is important to note the entrenchment clause only applied to maintaining public ownership of water assets. In order to protect against privatisation of these assets we will also be seeking political assurances from the National and ACT parties via letters that ask them to commit to public ownership.

“We hope they commit to keeping water assets in public ownership, especially given their previous track record of selling public assets,” Chris Hipkins said.

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