Jacinda Ardern's water asset plan sets a 'dangerous' precedent

Constitutional law experts warn NZ Prime Minister's bid to "entrench" public ownership of water assets would be inappropriate.

Jacinda Ardern's water asset plan sets a 'dangerous' precedent
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is being forced to rethink her government’s bid to entrench public ownership of water assets as constitutional experts warn the move sets a dangerous precedent.

Ardern said cabinet would “discuss” her plans which she described as “a bit quirky”.

The NZ government, working with the Greens, had proposed to “entrench” public ownership of water by insisting on a clause that mean any attempt to change it would require a vote of 60 per cent of parliament or a successful referendum.

Radio New Zealand reported that “a raft of constitutional legal experts have petitioned the Government to reconsider the dangerous precedent the entrenchment may create”.

Constitutional law expert Dr Dean Knight warned the entrenchment posed a “real danger” of allowing more laws to be similarly entrenched, without the support of the whole Parliament.

Officials from the Department of Internal Affairs had already told MPs that entrenchment was “inappropriate”.

Ardern agreed entrenchment “should be used rarely” and said her cabinet would “have a bit of a discussion” about it.

"No-one is backtracking from the idea that we shouldn't privatise water assets. We'll have a discussion about the principle of entrenchment, because we've heard those concerns and I think they are legitimate,” she said.

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