To Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni,
Congratulations on your new roles. I wish you all the best in tackling the challenges that New Zealand is currently facing.
I welcome your intention to focus on what you have termed the "bread and butter" issues. To that end, I thought I would write to you to share my thoughts on which policies and projects should be stopped to allow the Government to focus on the real priorities that matter to Kiwis like me.
Three Waters is deeply unpopular and should be scrapped. There are a number of issues with the water reforms, but the key overarching issues concerning me are: higher water costs, unnecessary bureaucracy, no local control, and the lack of democratic accountability. As the new leaders of our Government, you now have the opportunity to scrap this expensive policy and show that you are listening to Kiwis.
As noted in comments to the media, this Government has not done a good job of communicating what co-governance looks like in practice. As a result, there has been a lot of unease and confusion about a broad policy which is perceived to be undermining of New Zealand’s constitution and democracy. Not only does co-governance create a situation where political positions, public service roles, and voting rights are far less accountable, but it also sets up a bureaucratic nightmare where veto powers and controlling influences make it impossible to come to decisions. An issue that affects something as foundational as our democracy should be treated very carefully, so I am asking you to scrap co-governance policies at the very least until you have taken the matter to the electorate and have a mandate.
Reduction in Speed Limits
No one wants to see fatalities on our roads, but we do want to see safety measures and policies which are backed up with evidence. No cost-benefit analysis is planned as part of the major shake-up to speed limits Minister Michael Wood has announced across the country and that is very concerning. Already $45 million has been spent just reviewing speed limits! Reducing the road toll is not a burden that can be placed solely on New Zealanders through slashing speed limits with a few strikes of a pen in Wellington. Lowering the road toll should be approached using evidence and by prioritising upgrading roading infrastructure, not by creating logistical nightmares for Kiwis and businesses.
Unelected Commissioners controlling Tauranga City Council
Unlike everywhere else in the country, Tauranga City ratepayers have no say on how their money is spent as elections were cancelled last year following the reappointment of Wellington-controlled commissioners. We say that’s not fair – the last council might not have been functioning well, but the solution should be new elections, not to cancel them indefinitely! With the general election this year, I ask you to instruct your Minister of Local Government to ensure Tauranga returns to democracy, with new City Council elections held on the same day as the general election.
Auckland Light Rail
It hardly needs to be said that the 2017 election promises of Light Rail in Auckland have not been delivered. Instead, millions of dollars continue to be racked up in consultancy fees and bureaucracy. New Zealand and especially Auckland need to have a clear plan for transport going forward. It needs to serve our population's needs and be forward-thinking to ensure that meets environmental obligations and the visions for our cities. A tram through the middle of Auckland does not achieve that. It is time to cut our (immense) losses and focus on delivering transport solutions that are practical and economical.
It is 2023 and the housing crisis hasn’t gone anywhere! At current rates, KiwiBuild looks set to be complete in somewhere around 300 years' time. Clearly this is not good enough. This reset in leadership is your opportunity to go back to the drawing board and bring a fresh approach to making housing affordable for New Zealanders. Just throw KiwiBuild out and get back to basics in collaboration with the private sector.
I am heartened by the initial comments you both have made regarding the direction you intend to take things in 2023 and hope you will consider this feedback in good faith. The ball is in your court, but I encourage you to be bold in cleaning out the unworkable and unpopular policies and projects you inherited.