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'Bureaucracy gone mad'

'Bureaucracy gone mad'
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown

Spending $20,000 to confirm something you are already well aware of is “bureaucracy gone mad”, Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown says.
Audit NZ has advised the Ashburton District Council that any statements made in its annual report concerning drinking water compliance need to be independently validated by a qualified external party.
That means they are facing an estimated $20,000 cost to confirm that none of its schemes at present are bacteriological and protozoal compliant.
“We know we don’t comply. We know that,” Brown said.
“But the auditor wants someone to come in and do a report to tell us that we don’t comply. It will cost us upwards of $20,000, and then we’ll both agree we don’t comply. It’s a waste of $20,000.”
Chief executive, Hamish Riach, explained that the issue is the independent verification of the testing regime and avoiding the annual report being red-flagged.
“While I agree it’s madness, and we agree that getting the independent assessment just to say we don’t comply feels wasteful, we have taken a view that having a qualified audit report based on our non-compliance of Three Waters is not a particularly desirable place for the council to be,” Riach said.
It is money that would have been better spent towards the planned works to make the schemes compliant, which has been budgeted for, Brown said.
“It’s a priority so that we do comply. We budgeted for it, let’s get it done,” Brown said.
Riach said it was not that simple.
“We simply can’t do everything we want to do with the resources we have available.”
He said Ashburton and councils across the country were struggling with balancing their business as usual and work for the Government reforms.
The council has budgeted $3.2 million for the Ashburton supply and $324,000 in Rakaia to install UV disinfection equipment in the next two years.
Works are also budgeted for Dromore, Fairton, Hinds, Chertsey, and Mayfield.

  • By Jonathan Leask