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Barrie Saunders: $100 billion nationalisation but where is the business media?

If the Government gets its way, around $100 billion of community owned three waters assets, will be effectively nationalised. They will be placed in the hands of the most convoluted monopoly structure I have seen, with iwi leaders substantially in the drivers’ seat.

One might have thought a transaction of this scale would have attracted the attention of our business journalists, capable of going beyond the so called co-governance aspect.

Are property rights too boring for business journalists these days to matter?

I read the serious media including the NZ Herald and Business Desk, but as yet have not seen any articles, which dealt with the relevant elements.

I have read articles by political journalists looking at it all from a political angle, and swiping anyone who might question governance arrangements as racist or dog whistling.

I may have missed it, but I have not seen anything in mainstream or business media that thoroughly dissects the case for nationalisation and whether the extraordinarily complex arrangements embodied in the proposal, will deliver the benefits claimed.

This is seriously important for everyone, so why have mainstream media not allocated a significant journalistic resource to it?

After living in a few other countries, I came back to NZ, in part because I thought it was a quality democracy, and also because it had a free media, albeit one not as sophisticated or as well resourced as that in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US.

While our Governments can swing from left to right and the media rolls with it, I never predicted our mainstream media would turn a blind eye to assaults on the quality of our democracy, including the conflict of interest issues around the Mahuta family.

There are some who think journalists have been bought off by government money. That will be true for some cases but I suspect it’s more likely they are either happy to ride along with the proposals, or are simply too scared of the critics, to engage in this important issue.

Either way it reflects very badly on our business media and leader writers. When I compare the risks take by war journalists and those who live in authoritarian countries such as Russia and Hungary, I know where courageous journalists live. It is not New Zealand.

It’s not too late guys. Just read the Bill and look at what some non mainstream media is publishing.

These are key questions to ask:

  1. Are the three waters operations across the country so uniformly bad, wholesale state control is justified?

  2. How should local authorities be compensated for their loss of property rights?

  3. If there is to be forced aggregation is four entities the right number, or should it be more like ten to allow some natural groupings to form?

  4. Why are they not based regional council boundaries and why is Gisborne lumped in with Wellington and Nelson?

  5. How can captive customers ensure the new entities are not typical flabby monopolies that gold plate their systems?

  6. Why should iwi have a dominant governance position of assets created by communities since 1840?

  7. Could the new system lead to the entities paying iwi royalties for water which originally comes from the skies?

About Barrie Saunders: For 25 years I was a Government Relations consultant retiring from Saunders Unsworth in 2015. Earlier work included journalism in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, public relations roles in Parliament, manufacturing and the meat industry – also in the late 1980s the North American Director of the NZ Meat Producers Board based in New York. I was President of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce 2000-2002 and was Chairman of the NZ Taxpayers Union from 2018 until March 2021.

3,701 views38 comments


Judging from the tenor of comments and number of likes, if we had a legal avenue this sitting government and all parliamentarians who back the co-governance / three waters etc. plans would be gone tomorrow. I am greatly concerned that many of us are looking for a saviour in the form of a new or resurrected "minor" party, or a seriously reformed opposition party. Both are unlikely options, for a slew of reasons that in your hearts you all know are true. Given that (like the government) the judiciary and police are corporations, all in on the coup that originated with the WEF and in the case of Maori co-governance the UNDRIP that Helen helped draft and John signed…


Jul 12, 2022

I wish I knew whether the legislation which permits this water theft can be reversed by the next government after Labour are ejected at the next election. If it is time for some serious action to defeat this racist rabble, then it is certainly time that Luxon developed some courage and made a firm declaration that it (and several other racist policies) will be reversed within X weeks of the election. I realise that Luxon is scared to announce any policy at this early stage, for fear of losing a few marginal votes of ignorant sheeple, but surely he MUST know that there are FAR more votes to be gained by some honest olicy announcements?


Jul 06, 2022

Do a bunch of 10% brown political jobsworths know anything about water supplies?


What we're seeing is classic Apartheid: The control of the majority by a 'entitled' minority. NZ'ers fought for generations to abolish this system, and the Springbok tour of 1984 nearly caused a civil war in this country. Now we find the same racial system being implemented here, and those who squealed like a stuffed pig (like John Minto and others) are strangely silent this time. Where have their morals gone and superior attitude gone? Like our MSM, probably too busy schlurping at the trough to even look up for a minute to see what is going on.

Octavian Augustus
Octavian Augustus
Jul 08, 2022
Replying to

The perceived problem in South Africa was not that it was a minority-rule system, but that it was Whites ruling Blacks. This is why nobody cares if Blacks dominate Whites, because it is all about anti-White hatred. It wasn't an anti-apartheid movement, it was a movement aimed at White rule. Whatever you can say about the morality of apartheid in South Africa, it is undeniable that the country was a very advanced and prosperous nation (the only one in Africa) when it was White minority rule, whereas it is now a crumbling Third World s*** hole (definitely not the only one in Africa) now that the majority Blacks run the place. The implications of this transformation may be uncomfortable, but…


Day after day I read the on line posts from an ever growing number of experts and the comments that follow their expert , well at least intelligent and meaningful , opinions. Day after day I walk away from my desk depressed and seriously concerned for the future of our country. Today John Hyndman you are on to it, like so many others following a similar trail. Well said John. I have to agree with your basic observation.....Our country is heading for ruin; a state being driven and overseen by the Labour Govt and the totally incompetent gang who comprise its so called leadership. Jacinda, Mahuta, Little, et al spring to mind.

Somehow the messages have to be delivered to…

Replying to

We need a new right wing party ready to destroy the other parties and show case all the traitors that inhabit those parties.

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