Wednesday, 13th May, 2015
Tomorrow’s Auckland Council meeting to consider terms of reference for deciding the future of Ports of Auckland will hopefully mark a step to building a better Auckland.
“I would like to think that we are finally at a point of beginning some serious work to look at the short and long-term future of the Port,” said Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett.
An ‘all in’ agenda is required, he said, including:
- The Port’s ownership model – Auckland is one of the few cities with a 100% port ownership in which they are both regulator and sole profit taker. Cities in Australia and UK have moved to a landlord model where they lease the port land to a private port company with many cities also increasing revenue by having shares in the company.
- Co-management model – Working with Tauranga and North Port in Whangarei to provide an upper North Island port service.
- Improving access to the Port – e.g. would investing in a dedicated rail line between Port and its inland facility at Wiri, help address the concern over the build-up of cargo on the wharves? Should the long-planned Grafton Gully truck access route to the Port proceed?
- The Port’s footprint – If the Port configuration is limited against Auckland’s continuing growth what will this do to Council’s ability to increase its revenue from the port. If Council retains 100% ownership, will it be content to limit the return it can get from the Port?
- The Port’s customers – At present around 75% of the cargo the Port handles goes to-or-from customers located within 35 kilometres of the Port. This represents many thousands of jobs and huge value to the Auckland economy. Do we want to put this at risk?
- Re-location – What would the benefit-cost be long-term to Auckland of a Port relocation scenario? And if so, where to?
These are some of the absolutes that Auckland wants and needs to address in respect of the Port’s short and long-term future, said Mr Barnett. “This is not about branding the Port as the bad guys for wanting to get on with developing the Port’s capacity. We need an efficient, customer-focused Port - a lot of Auckland businesses and jobs depend on it.”
“We shouldn’t be pushing each other into corners over this debate. It’s Auckland’s future that is on the line. We need to be patient with each other and seek an all-encompassing solution.”