29 October 2009

More language misrepresentation

Except this time it is the NZ Herald, simply getting things wrong.

The government is removing a restriction on councils that will allow them to freely choose to privatise water or to contract out the construction, operation, financing and management of water supplies to the private sector.

So why have a headline "Should water and wastewater services be opened up to private competition?"

You see there are no statutory restrictions on providing competing water or wastewater services, although councils would no doubt use the RMA to make it difficult. So this isn't about competition, it is about allowing councils to choose privatisation.

So like the ACC issue, privatisation and competition are being mixed up.

To be fair, it is unlikely that there would be competition in reticulated water supplies or waste water. That's not to mean there aren't potential alternatives.

People can, of course, buy bottled water, establish rain water collection systems, or could establish businesses to buy water in tanks. Waste water need not be carried away in pipe, but could be collected in sumps that can be emptied. Indeed, many people in rural areas and small towns do just that.

However, again, this is besides the point. All that is happening is councils will be able to use their "power of general competence" to privatise to a greater or lesser extent.

The very same people who wanted councils to be empowered, don't trust them to decide what to do with water and waste water services - funny that.

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