Chris Luxon, National MP for Botany, holds a number of portfolios including Local Government.
I think he should put most of his energy into Local Government, specifically the Three Waters Reform.
It's a biggie and I suspect it will only get bigger.
This could be National's positive tipping point because I don't think the Government realises how concerned New Zealanders are with what they're proposing.
From seeing and reading opinions expressed in the media, it is obvious significant numbers of concerned citizens are questioning the need and the scale of the reforms.
Some even fear that by transferring council-owned three waters assets and management to four new water services entities this could be the start of privatising our water. A commodity to be traded.
At this stage, the Government is still working on their proposal but they have said privatisation is not on their agenda.
There is nothing wrong with reforms. Very necessary in some cases. But New Zealand doesn't have the best of reputations when it comes to restructuring, deregulation and reform.
Since the mid-1980s various governments have taken the reform axe to many of the industries that provided us with vital services. The electricity reforms being one of the biggest.
Through deregulation, more profits went to companies and the cheaper power prices never eventuated.
Assets sold were later re-purchased by the government with little of the touted reform benefits realised.
Reform rational always appeared plausible, justified. Outcomes sought include economic growth through efficient resource use, cheaper pricing, and where possible, by competitive markets.
For the three waters reform the Government's stated drivers are:
• Public health and wellbeing;
• Improved environmental outcomes;
• Economic growth and employment;
• Housing and Urban development;
• Adapting to the impacts of climate change;
• Mitigating the effects of natural hazards.
So far only Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs) and iwi are being consulted. That's hardly fair.
Even at this early stage there should have been an opportunity to bring other parties on board.
And I don't mean just from an engineering or TLA background.
People, and organisations, who can demonstrate a background of applying intellectual rigour. Who have the ability to quickly grasp and assess a range of complex ideas to arrive at innovative well-reasoned models and solutions. Those who take immediate and longer term consequences into account.
I would be much happier knowing consultation and input was wider than just TLAs and iwi, and others were in on the ground floor working on proposed solutions and model development.
I value such external input because they are the ones who continually ask why? They never let up. They often make the proponents for change feel very uncomfortable.
Because they work hard to ensure the rational and justification will stand up to the strongest scrutiny. They have no reason to be patch protective and should not be politically aligned. Rarely are they bureaucrats.
Information has so far been drip fed to TLAs who are doing their best to gauge what exactly they're being consulted on when the full picture is still under construction.
The Government is using Scotland as an example of successful water reform.
The same reasons; improved performance, cost-cutting, economies of scale, improved water quality, and affordable water bills are what we are hearing.
By all means, look around the world to see how other countries are managing their three waters. But any proposal should be developed on what New Zealand needs and not a knock-off reshaped, tweaked overseas model.
The Government wants to hear back from TLAs and iwi by the end of September.
They'll look at the responses, make any adjustments and changes they see fit then bingo, the public will finally be consulted.
By that time community goodwill could be, like wastewater, down the toilet.
It is foolish not to take people with you, even at the start, when major change is being mooted.
Water reform was bound to get people all stirred up. When they are consulted after a proposal has been developed they are often right in thinking "what's the use, it's a done deal".
And therein lies the danger.
People warm to an idea if they are consulted during the early stages of proposal development.
But they first want to be convinced reform, be it small or large scale is actually necessary.
And they want to trust the process.
Trust, like water is precious too. It should never be taken lightly. It develops over time with careful nurturing and support.
If treated with contempt trust can disappear overnight - creating an opportunity for an astute operative to move quickly into place.
- Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is chairwoman of the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency, a Lakes District Health Board member and Rotorua District councillor.