The Opposition Democratic Party has called for changes to the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill 2020 before its tabled in Parliament in September.
Party leader Tina Browne has warned they will not support the passage of the Bill through Parliament if it remains in its current form.
Browne said the Bill contains “too many flaws” and has raised concerns among the public.
“There is no way that the Democratic Party Opposition will support the Bill the way it is at present. It really needs to be carefully redrafted with a lot more consideration vested in our culture and traditions,” Browne said.
“At the moment there are too many contentious areas in the Bill and these need to be changed with the interest of our people being kept at the forefront, not the interest of government or the To Tatou Vai Authority.”
The select committee scrutinising the new water authority law is holding consultations this week to gauge public view, including their concerns.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown is heading the committee which also has Albert Nicholas, Patrick Arioka, Te Hani Brown, Selina Napa, Agnes Armstrong and Terepai Maoate Jr.
Brown has urged people to attend the meetings themselves and ask their own questions “rather than accept as gospel what is being fed to them on social media”.
He said this was a chance to hear from health experts, water professionals, engineers, lawyers and To Tatou Vai staff and other government agencies about how “we are improving the delivery and quality of water to our people.”
However, Tina Browne said government was giving “so little time” to public and landowners’ consultations and rushing the Bill through for the next sitting of Parliament in September.
Browne said the landowners of the intakes should have been given the opportunity to meet separately with the select committee.
“This will have a disastrous result, and we are already seeing the growing public dissatisfaction with the Bill – landowners, growers, NGOs are all speaking out about it. The government needs to have genuine and fair consultations with our people,” she said.
“The Bill has significant implications for our people, landowners, growers, our village communities in Rarotonga and Aitutaki – our people need to understand what those implications are and this won’t be possible in three vaka consultations allocating two hours per vaka consultation on Rarotonga.
“The landowners should have been given the opportunity to meet separately with the select committee appointed to hear submissions on the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill and it is very disappointing that this request has been turned down by the committee chairman DPM Mark Brown.
“Landowners have significant issues they wish to address and they should rightly have been given every opportunity to do that before the committee.”