Waipā District Council has pulled a sentence from a Three Waters reform media release it sent out last week and admitted the sentence was wrong.
The release claimed people who do not take part in a select committee process around reform will be “counted by the government as being in support of this plan.”
After The News sent the quote to Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta, a spokesperson for her said the support claim was erroneous “and does not reflect Parliamentary processes.”
“That sentence was wrong,” Waipā Customer and Community Services group manager Sally Sheedy subsequently admitted.
The template release was prepared by Communities For Local Democracy, a lobby grouping of 31 councils and allowed councils to attribute generic copy to each councils’ mayor.
Waipā is funding its $15,000 inclusion in the group from the Mayoral Discretionary Fund.
Waipā’s communications staff last Thursday sent the release out and posted it on the council website quoting mayor Jim Mylchreest and included other comments from Manawatu mayor and lobby group chair Helen Worboys. It was she who said people who did not participate would be counted as in favour of Three Waters.
The claim remains on the Manawatu District Council and lobby group’s website but is now off Waipā’s.
“We hadn’t picked up on that but now it has been drawn to our attention, we’ve removed this line from the news release,” said Sheedy.
“We assume the material provided is correct but, in this instance, that sentence was wrong.”
The News asked Sheedy whether the $15,000 approved from the mayor’s fund also included time spent by council officers on work for the lobby group.
“No additional money has been spent on this campaign. Only minimal staff time has been spent – liaising with the mayor about the news release, posting on the website and to social media.”
Submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill, which the government says will establish four publicly owned water service entities, close on July 22.
Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee will consider the submissions.
Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said in the release the Waipā community held strong views on Three Waters and needed to share those thoughts.
“…the wider Waipā community has indicated their strong opposition to the reforms in their current format so now’s the time to speak up and share their thoughts on that,” Mylchreest said.
“We want our local voices heard in Wellington, so if you don’t want to see future water services that are all pay, no say, this is your opportunity to stand up and be counted.”