The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

BIG FAT UPDATE ON THE FIGHTBACK AGAINST THE $UPERCITY AND WATER PRIVATISATION!

1) THE PEOPLE’S REFERENDUM ON THE SUPERCITY!

Have YOU voted yet?

http://www.ourauckland.org.nz

In my view THE PEOPLE’S REFERENDUM will help create and build the groundswell that will encourage people to take the step that CAN’T be ignored:

DISPUTING AND WITHOLDING RATES – NO SAY – NO PAY!

(Very helpful article in last weeks ‘The Aucklander’ (Auckland City and North Shore editions).

http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/local/news/rates-revolt/3913483/

Keeping citizens in the loop

NO VOTE – NO PAY! COUNCILS ASKED TO SUPPORT DISPUTED RATES BEING WITHELD ‘IN ESCROW’!

Rates revolt

John Landrigan | 6th May 2010

http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/local/news/rates-revolt/3913483/

Hilary Butler of Tuakau has asked Franklin District Council to support the rates revolt.

Citizens and councils are considering a legal rebellion ‘No vote, no pay’ local body boycott , writes John Landrigan.

Sire, sire, the peasants are revolting.

The well-worn line may not be the most diplomatic way to summarise the actions of the region’s irate ratepayers, but it looks as if it is becoming accurate.

The Aucklander is now presenting the Auckland region with its only chance to vote “yes or no” to the Government’s plans to merge our eight councils. A select committee is due to report to Parliament on May 24 with its proposals for the third and final Act to shunt the changes through.

In the meantime, a council-backed rates revolt is the latest action proposed to stop the amalgamation and the public’s assets being put in the hands of Wellington-appointed boards.

The concept: ratepayers could put their rates into a temporary financial management fund until Auckland’s voice is heard.

It has the backing of some current city councillors and at least one deputy mayor.

Long-time bureaucrat battler and water rights campaigner Penny Bright is addressing all councils – except Auckland City because Mayor John Banks refused her speaking rights – on the idea of setting up an “escrow” fund.

Holding rates money in escrow, according to Ms Bright, would allow more time to hold an official vote on the Government’s fast, sweeping changes.
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For the idea to be practical, parties such as ratepayers and existing councils would have to agree. The concept already has some support.

Waitakere’s deputy mayor, Penny Hulse, is interested. Councillor Caroline Conroy, a nine-year veteran of Papakura District Council and member of savepapakura.com action group, also likes the sound of it.

Waitakere City Council heard the submission from Penny Bright and is interested in further exploring the idea of a third party holding rates money, says Ms Hulse.

“We all nodded and thought, ‘That sounds interesting’. The Government is hellbent on pursuing the super-city.

“People are coming to our meetings and asking: ‘Where’s the democracy? Where’s the process?’ The community wants some way to have their voices heard.”

Ms Conroy says there are merits in the idea and Penny Bright is “heading in the right direction”.

“I’m not sure council would endorse a rates revolt as council still needs to function. I like the mechanism.

“It shows the amount is in dispute rather than people making an excuse not to pay rates.”

Tuakau resident and staunch campaigner for a democratic Auckland, Hilary Butler, says she would back it if it is a legitimate protest.

She has asked Franklin District Council to do just that.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen. We still want to pay our rates. Everyone wants the services.”

Mrs Butler is mostly concerned that no final cost has yet been cited for the amalgamation of the region’s councils.

“If I had an idea, but did not have any cost analysis to back it, council would not accept my idea. I’m objecting to the information we have been given. It is crud.”

Penny Bright says refusing to pay rates is the most effective, responsible action to “safeguard our lawful democratic rights, our public assets and resources for our children, grandchildren and future generations”.

As The Aucklander went to print she was in talks with a prominent investment company to manage rebel ratepayers’ funds.

She says this will be held until Parliament repeals the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau) Reorganisation Act 2009. “There should be no taxation without representation.”

What is escrow?

Money, goods, or a written document, held by a neutral third party pending fulfilment of some condition – Collins Oxford Dictionary

May 6, 2010 – Posted by Penny Bright | Stop the $uper City | | No Comments Yet | Edit

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Also – who can help by getting on talkback to advertise THE PEOPLE’S REFERENDUM ON THE SUPERCITY?

Ballot papers and ballot boxes are in ALL libraries in the Auckland region – Rodney to Papakura.

Voting stops 5pm Friday 14 May 2010.

NB! PEOPLE MUST FILL IN THEIR FULL NAMES AND DETAILS AS PER THE ELECTORAL ROLL.

(The organisers prefer people to vote on-line – because then other questions can be answered as well.)

Can you please email /text/ tell as many people as possible about this?

TALKBACK !

a) Contact details for Newstalk hosts:

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/contactus.asp?menu=7&menuitem=2

b) Contact details for Radio Live talkback hosts:

http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Contact/tabid/467/Default.aspx

2) Seeing if any International anti-water privatisation speaker of note is possibly available.

Maude Barlow can’t – she’s booked.

Just think it would be GREAT to have an international expert to help hit the ‘privatisation is NOT privatisation’ argument on the head.

3) What do YOU think of the idea of 12 June (Saturday) being an national DAY OF ACTION against water privatisation?

In Auckland some people are keen on a march (like the anti-mining march).

The idea up here would be to tie it in with the $UPERCITY – given that privatisation via PPPs is the corporate agenda.
People have any thoughts on a national ‘day of action’ against changing the Local Government Act 2002 to make it easier to privatise water services?

Saturday 12 June?

Rally outside Town Halls all over NZ, and have ‘submissions’ available for people to sign/ collect them up and send to Parliament?

Any feedback on that one?

My view is to have Town Halls as the focal point – and have pro forma submissions ready for people to sign.

(Obviously Town Halls won’t be open on a Saturday – doesn’t matter – it’s a focal point for LOCAL GOVT DEMOCRACY!)

4) DRAFT ‘submission’ on Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill HERE – feedback welcome!

DRAFT SUBMISSION PEOPLE CAN USE:

( I haven’t ‘test-driven’ this – but following is the email link to make an ‘on-line submission’.

http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/MakeSub/4/d/f/49SCLGE_SCF_00DBHOH_BILL9872_1-Local-Government-Act-2002-Amendment.htm

Feel free to add or subtract bits!
Or – just write whatever you want!

The following is just a guide – but the last paragraph has TEETH!

“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.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chair of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee,
Chris Auchinvole
Select Committee Office
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON

Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill

Dear Members of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee,

I believe that water privatisation covers both the operation and management, as well as ownership of the water services assets. The income stream will flow from publicly-owned pipes to the private sector.

I believe 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).

I believe that the ownership, operation and management of essential public services – especially water services, which are vital for public health and sanitation, should remain under the direct democratic control of elected representatives, not ‘commercialised’ under the CCO (Metrowater) model or privatised under the Public Private Partnership (PPP – (United Water Papakura) model.

I believe that water services should not be operated and managed as a ‘profit-making business’.

I have not seen evidence of any independent ‘cost-benefit’ analysis which conclusively proves that privatisation through ‘contracting out’ or PPPs benefits the public majority.

I believe that the House should uphold and progressively implement the International Human Right to Water, as enshrined in the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 15 (2002) (The right to water (Articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) 26 November 2002), by not passing any further legislation, and repealing any existing legislation which enables “volumetric” charging for water and wastewater services, which disproportionately burden poorer households with water expenses as compared to richer households.

I am deeply concerned 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 I believe is for a future takeover by United Water.

I am deeply concerned that United Water South Australia have 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.

I support Petition 2008/60 of Penelope Mary Bright and 171 others, presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009 – referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“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.”

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.

NAME:____________________________________________________________________

ADDRESS:________________________________________________________________

SIGNED: _________________________________________ DATE:__________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________

5) Have initiated a ‘stopper’ petition before the House, and am compiling evidence for a ‘submission from HELL’ calling for a full investigation of the 7 United Water contracts currently held in NZ to check that they were not based on ‘misrepresented pricing’.

“Petition 2008/60 of Penelope Mary Bright and 171 others, presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009 – referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“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.”

United Water South Australia was taken to the SA Supreme Court – the allegation being that corporate overhead costs from United Water’s NZ contracts had been loaded on to the customers of United Water South Australia.

The court case has been discontinued – but is now being heard by some ‘independent expert’ to check whether or not United Water SA’s pricing has been ‘fair’.
________________________________________________________________

“Pledge to reveal result of water-bill dispute”

By: SEAN FEWSTER, COURT REPORTER

Click here for full page image in PDF format

THERE is new hope that taxpayers will learn if they were tricked into overpaying United Water millions of dollars, even though a lawsuit with the Rann Government has been abandoned.

For seven months, the two sides have bickered over claims United Water overcharged taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars” for its services from 2001 to 2006.

The Rann Government claimed the multi-national corporation used the money to fund its operations in Ballarat and New Zealand.

Yesterday, the parties told The Advertiser they had mutually agreed to discontinue their Supreme Court lawsuits.
The matter will now be considered by an independent expert, who will rule whether or not United Water’s prices in that period were fair.

Though the dispute will be heard behind closed doors, United Water chairman Mike Terlet said there was no reason its result should not be made public.

“The public will have an interest in the outcome of this review, and we will have no objections should the State Government and SA Water decide to inform them.”

In September, SA Water filed court papers accusing United Water of overcharging by “tens of millions of dollars”.

Treasurer Kevin Foley said it was “impossible to quantify” how much more people had paid for their water bills.

United Water accused the Government of “blackening” its name by “publicly brandishing” its lawsuit.

It filed a counter-claim, saying the Government was trying to “bully” contract re-negotiations and “play cards” with its confidential files.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Foley said he was confident the review would be made public, provided confidentiality agreements were not required.

“The most important outcome is for taxpayers to get the money we believe is rightfully theirs,” he said.

Michael Owen

South Australian Political Reporter

The Australian, The Weekend Australian

Adelaide Bureau

31 Waymouth Street

Adelaide SA 5000

Australia

Telephone: +61 8 8206 2610

Mobile: 0400-042-214

Fax: +61 8 8206 3688

Email: owenm@theaustralian.com.au

Online: http://www.theaustralian.com.au
___________________________________________________________________

6) Have done a very tough Official Information Act request and sent it to the 7 NZ Councils with United Water contracts to try and flush out information which would prove that UW effectively ‘underpriced’ their contracts in order to get a foothold in NZ.

These Councils are:

Papakura District Council
Franklin District Council
Thames Coromandel District Council
Ruapehu District Council
Queenstown Lakes District Council
Waitomo District Council
Wellington City Council

(So far – have had responses to some of the questions from:

Papakura District Council
Ruapehu District Council
Queenstown Lakes District Council
Wellington City Council

This is a sample of the OIA that was sent:

“Subject: ‘URGENT’ OPEN LETTER/ OIA REQUEST TO THE CEO OF THE WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL RE: UNITED WATER CONTRACT

27 April 2010

Wellington City Council
CEO
Gary Poole

URGENT’ OPEN LETTER/ OIA REQUEST TO THE CEO OF THE ‘WELLINGTON CITY’ COUNCIL
RE: UNITED WATER CONTRACT:

Dear Gary,

Under the ‘urgency’ provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 , I require this information by Tuesday 4 May 2010 5pm.

This is because I have been asked to give evidence by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee by 7 May 2010 in support of the following petition:

Petition 2008/60 of Penelope Mary Bright and 171 others, presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009 – referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“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.”
______________________________

BACKGROUND PROVIDED BY UNITED WATER

United Water provides wastewater services for 188,000 residents in Wellington,
operating two treatment plants including Moa Point WWTP adjacent Wellington Airport.

_____________________________________________________________
Our services

Veolia Water operates more than 4,400 contracts in 64 countries, providing water and wastewater services to more than 139 million people.

Founded more than 150 years ago in France and originally known as Compagnie Générale des Eaux, Veolia Water is the worldwide leader in water services, employing more than 93,000 people.

Veolia Water’s expertise covers each stage of water cycle management including:

* Managing the operations and maintenance of water and wastewater services as outsourced by public authorities and industry
*
Designing, building and supplying water equipment, systems and treatment facilities

Veolia Water also supports sustainable development to conserve water resources and provides the capabilities to establish alternative water sources.

Veolia Water is the water division of the world leader in environmental services, Veolia Environnement – which offers solutions in waste management, energy and transport.
______________________________________________________________

PLEASE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:

1) Copies of the ‘public advertisments’ (if any) for the ‘Request For Tender’, prior to the awarding of this contract to United Water, which confirm that the ‘tender process’ was open.

2) Copies of the ‘request for tender’ from the Wellington City Council to potential contractors/suppliers, which confirm that the ‘tender process’ was open to other contractors than just United Water.

3) Copies of the ‘Terms of tender’.

4) Information which confirms the names and positions of those who drew up the tender document (s).

5) Information which confirms the names and positions of those who evaluated the tenders.

6) Documentation which explained the roles and responsibilities of each tender evaluation committee member at that time.

7) Documentation which explained the roles and responsibilities of the tender evaluation committee convenor at that time.

8) Information which confirms the documenting of a ‘Register of Interests’ (or the like), for those involved in drawing up the tender document(s), and those involved in evaluating and awarding the tender(s), in order to establish that there were no ‘conflicts of interest’.

9) A copy of the ‘Evaluation Matrix’, (or equivalent document), including an explanation of how the ‘tenders’ were scored.

10) A copy of the information which outlines the processes involved in signing the Evaluation Matrix’, (or equivalent document).

11) A copy of the signed Evaluation Matrix’, (or equivalent document.

12) A copy of the information which outlines the processes involved in preparing report recommending the preferred tender.

13) A copy of the report recommending the preferred tender.

14) A copy of the ‘Agreement and contract’.

15) A copy of the ‘Terms of contract’.

16) Copies of any subsequent contract variations

17) Copies of full financial statements i.e. Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet from United Water, on an annual basis, since the awarding of this contract.

18) All information (if any) pertaining to all/any ‘lobbying’ by any person or any agent acting for United Water/Veolia in order to assist their bid for this contract, including but not limited to: meeting minutes/reports/ letters/emails/recorded telephone conversations.

19) All information (if any) pertaining to all/any ‘lobbying’, by any person or any agent of Watercare Services Ltd, in particular, but not limited to Mark Ford, David Hawkins, or Graham Wood, in order to assist United Water /Veolia in their bid for this contract.

20) Copies of any/all audit documents regarding the tendering process and awarding of this contract to United Water by:

a) Council’s internal auditing body.
b) The Office of the Auditor General.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright

Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.
“Anti-corruption campaigner”

Ph (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127 https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

7) COUNTERING THE ‘CONTRACTING OUT IS NOT WATER PRIVATISATION HITLER ‘BIG LIE’!!

http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/water-privatisation-a-no-go-says-minister-122591

Sorry folks – but don’t get sucked in with the ‘weasel words’.

(Associate Local Government Minister John Carter continued government attempts to distance the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill from the spectre of water privatisation.)

“We are talking about private-public partnerships for the management of water. Councils will always own the water supply, that’s what the law requires to have happen,” he said.

“There is no way that that’s privatising the actual asset.”

Whatever………………

As always – just ask two simple questions:

1) Where is the money going?
2) Who is benefitting?

Why should shareholders of multinational water companies (like United Water – owned by Veolia – the biggest water company in the world) get the income stream flowing from pipes we the public have paid for?

Where’s the ‘cost-benefit’ analysis which conclusively proves the cost-effectiveness of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the public majority?

Just got a letter from Treasury today, confirming they never ‘prepared a cost-benefit analysis of the Council Controlled Organisation model as part of the Auckland Governance Reforms’.

Where is the ‘prudent stewardship’ / ‘fiscal responsibility’ being exercised over our arguably most essential of all essential public services – water services?

Wake up folks!

The ‘corporate raider’/ ‘smiling assassin’ John Key, is conveniently HIDEing behind Rodney, while he murders democracy to help achieve a long-term corporate agenda.

Why else is the former Managing Director of United Water South Australia, Graham Wood, currently ‘Programme Manager’ – leading the integration of Auckland regional water services at the ATA?

Haven’t yet met a Councillor in the Auckland region who knew Graham Wood’s privatising background.

How ‘transparent’ was that Mark Ford?

Appointing the ex-Managing Director of United Water South Australia, Graham Wood, as the General Manager for Operations at Watercare, in or about 2007?

NZ is the ‘least corrupt country in the world’.

yeah right.

Penny Bright
Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised Public Watchdog on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.
“Anti-corruption campaigner”

https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

Ph 0011 64 9 8469 825

____________________________________________________________________________________
Water privatisation a no-go, says minister
Nina Fowler | Thursday May 6, 2010 – 04:13pm

Advocates of a property rights model for water will be lobbying for some time yet, based on statements delivered in the House today.

Associate Local Government Minister John Carter continued government attempts to distance the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill from the spectre of water privatisation.

Labour MP Phil Twyford tried to extract an admission from Mr Carter that allowing councils to contract out water services for up to 35 years was tantamount to water privatisation.

Mr Carter denied that a proposal existed to privatise water anywhere in New Zealand.

“We are talking about private-public partnerships for the management of water. Councils will always own the water supply, that’s what the law requires to have happen,” he said.

“There is no way that that’s privatising the actual asset.”

The bill passed first reading on Tuesday night.

____________________________________________________________________—

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May 10, 2010 - Posted by | Fighting water privatisation in NZ, Stop the $uper City

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