Leadership and the CRL

Stepping Up (Inadvertently) To Lead from the Front?

On A Mega-Project



It is becoming apparent that the Local Government Elections in Auckland are going to be fought over these three main topics:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. Rates and Local Service Provisions (funding local services)
  3. The Unitary Plan if The Council’s Draft Unitary Plan turns out to be a stinker


However at the moment the main focus seems to be on the City Rail Link after a leaked report from the Mayor’s Office and subsequent debate. This focus on the CRL seems to have factions drawing their line in the sand as they stand their ground on whether they are; for the CRL (in any form), against the CRL, or just plan fence-sitting (Councillor Cameron Brewer’s favourite position currently). However what is failing from our incumbent Councillors and the Mayor is actual leadership on the City Rail Link debate – which is not helping the ratepayer at all!

Let me show a long Facebook thread from Councillor George Wood on the CRL – and also to the fact I have been mentioned for the umpteenth time on this matter in the past 10 days:

  • Auckland CRL rail tunnel project funding in the spotlight. Excellent interview by Larry Williams of David Thornton No MoreRates.
    No Title (click on link for interview)


    • George Wood I hope that you have read this Treasury report Ben Ross. It goes along with what Dick Quax,Cameron Brewer and I have been saying about the lack of clarity around the current Auckland Council infrastructure budgets.
    • Simon Prast George, do you accept that the population of Auckland is going to rapidly expand?
    • Bob Murphy Not if the rates keep increasing Simon.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn would think Bob population of Auck will increase if rates go up, peeps won,t go out at night, and to cut down on power go to bed early, leave this one up to your imagination.
      Ian Wood so the population of those too poor to leave will go up…
      • Bob Murphy If they go to bed early there could quite possibly be a rapid increase in population.
    • Bob Murphy What are you on about Natalie? Don’t understand your point.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn why do we want to leave, we just have to get it right here, remember those on low incomes, and elderly, This is our homes our Country,
    • Bob Murphy I remember them alright Natalie, I am one of them.
      Natalie Bray-Gunn Simon said did u accept population for auck going to rapidly expand, and u said not if rates keep increasing, if people broke they stay home don,t go out, and cut down power etc, and go to bed, so then population increases so they can pay bills.
      • Natalie Bray-Gunn so am I, underpaid and overworked, and 6l, so keep on with my job, and watch people hired in my firm and paid under counter,at times, maybe they need to check out peeps from other countries and the students they hire, and up the coffers.
      • Bob Murphy You look good for 61.
    • Bob Murphy I think that the point is if the rates keep in increasing nobody will come and live in Auckland and people will move out to places where the rates and house prices are cheaper.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn isn.t that our retirement dream, think even owning a house a full on dream for most young ones these days.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn there are always peeps from othr countries rich enough to buy business,s and houses in Auck…
    • Bob Murphy Hence the point that Auckland is going to price itself off the market if it keeps going on like it is.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn not Auckland , just for our kids…
    • Bob Murphy My kids have gone to Aussie.
    • Bob Murphy They are doing OK, and the weather is better when we visit them.
    • Ben Ross I would not bother paying attention to a report out of Treasury. If those Boffins can not even get commentary on the Economy correct for the last oh I don’t know 25 years then their report from their infrastructure will be just as incorrect.

      I also suspect being from Treasury it is partisan and highly political knowing Treasury’s often actual far-right tendencies. Heck Bi-Partisan does not even in their dictionary but at least it is in the USA and the Republicans know and how to act Bi-partisan.

      So political, doing as their master the Minister of Finance says or wants to hear (and dont give me that independence rot either…), can not even get the economy commentary correct, partisan, stale and unoriginal in thinking since 1987. That makes it not even worth the pdf it was saved to as a file and certainly not worth my time reading currently or in the future (I would trust a report from the IMF on our infrastructure over Treasury).

      Clutching at straws from the Centre-Right and possibly embarrassing if Council either remains Centre-Left or lurches to the Centre at next years elections.

      Least some of us don’t wait for door stops produced out of Wellington (nor from the Mayor’s Office from that matter either) and actually are conducting private unpaid research into getting the CRL going using thinking outside of the square and knowing full well getting it wrong will bankrupt the city. Private and unpaid research that will be taken into the elections next year for voters to decide…

      Bring on 2013

      And for those looking for my stance on the CRL here it is https://voakl.net/2012/11/27/me-and-the-city-rail-link/

      With this bit on funding:
      Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).


      Where I Stand on the City Rail Link   A couple of days ago I posted my stance on…See More
    • Dick Quax Auckland’s population growth is not that rapid nor is its economic growth particularly stellar. Those cities that are doing well have low taxes (rates) and plently of land available for development.
      Like · Reply ·

    • William McGrath Actually, it is growing, and looking down Queen Street at the amount of traffic from people getting to/from work and leisure on all modes of transport shows this. You can’t ignore the growing problem in our Central City forever, George and Dick. We need the CRL. We need Central Government assistance from it, and we need solid strategies for funding it. All you two do is whinge and don’t suggest anything to solve the problem at hand. If you want to get votes next year, start considering solutions. At least Len’s thinking!
      • Millie Liang Hi William. I work all around the cbd every day and from what I see and hear from property owners and retailers they are finding it tougher and tougher to survive. More and more retailers are on monthly rentals and heading to the suburbs where rents and parking is much easier. Evey city in the world has congestion problems never mind how many zillions are thrown at the problem. Look at any major city in China where they have thrown billions at it or just across to Sydney. As for more people in the city, I would suggest the 1,000 -1,600 people that walk past some of my clients retail shops is made up of international students who have no intention of buying except fast food. You just have to sit outside some Queen St shops (besides fast food outlets) and do the numbers as to whether retailers are making ends meet and wonder how long they can hold on or their leases are up for renewal. As for Council pr spin that say this area or that area after street scape/road paving upgrades has 30-40 increase in patronage, I would strongly suggest it is simply dragging customers from other areas, like High St, Aotea Sq etc prescients. Wait to the seismic upgrade of buildings in the cbd kicks in and you might find the Council offers free parking in the cbd to get people into the area to justify the millions being spent.. From just 2 yrs ago the cbd retail/office market has completely changed… There will always be people wanting cbd retail space believing they have a better product/marketing plan etc. If in fact their are more people coming into in the cbd why aren’t they spending and why are retail shops down the bottom of town vacant and retailers climbing over each other to get into Princess wharf,Wynyard Quarter. To get Britomart going the majority of retailers were/are being enticed out of High St etc leaving a vacuum.
    • Dick Quax Most of the growth is occuring in the outer suburbs not on the CBD, 87% of the employment is outside the CBD. So the solution is a more flexible PT system fit for 21st century use not 19th century technology. Just because other solutions don’t match yours don’t dismiss them out of hand.
      George Wood This latest Treasury report will be an interesting discussion tomorrow Dick.
      • Millie Liang The amount of clients I have in the cbd who want to sell their biz/assign leases before they loose everything is a worrying trend. It simply isn’t commercially viable for a large number of them.
      • Ben Ross I’ll be brief, the car is also 19th century technology as well so like to come again with that argument Councillor?
    • William McGrath Dick, so far, neither you or George have come up with those 21st century solutions? You have not shown the Auckland people a viable alternative to the City Rail Link. Until then, you’re argument is invalid.
    • George Wood Get real William. In our democratic system of justice he who asserts or affirm must prove. It is about time the mayor and has team of CRL tunnel promoters came up with the evidence. It seems they are basing their case on a wild hunch right now.
    • Millie Liang Hopefully the Mayor has read how tough Aus is doing it and the $AUS 32 billion budget blowout and the article today in the Sydney Morning Herald on what Gerry Norman has to say where their retail sector is heading.. and hopefully the mayor is having a …See More


      HARVEY Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey says industry conditions remain di…See More
    • Ben Ross Harvey got caught out from an obselete business model. However point is taken from the SMH article. We need our leaders to talk up otherwise we get a self fulfilling prophersey
    • Ben Ross And Councillor Quax, I can tell you dont read submissions much otherwise you would of noticed me pushing for the Eastern Highway in the Auckland Plan…
    • Dick Quax Eastern Highway is that in NZ?
    • Ben Ross The very highway connecting your Ward with Councillors Brewer and Lee while defeating Banks in 2004 (sadly)
    • Dick Quax oh the eastern corridor now known as ameti. It was never intended to be a “highway” but a multi modal transport corridor to accommodate buses, trains, walking, cycling and private cars. And I was staunch supporter of that project
    • Ben Ross I know you were Councillor. I was annoyed greatly that the Eastern Corridor never went ahead back then as it could of all been completed by now relieving the pressure on the Eastern Suburbs. Although do you still support the corridor today including what is now known as the Botany (rail) Line
    • Mark Donnelly George/Dick – is the CRL actually a project? If it is give Len Brown a map and ask him where the trains go / circulate etc. What max timetable is, and actual capacity before and after CRL. Govt/AT papers only show a rise from 29,000 to 36,000 or so into CBD.
      Western line suffers major disruption under CRL with 40% not going through to Grafton/Newmarket.
      Until someone actually lays out what the project actually is, it’s just a nonsense. It’s like the political interference which saw Parnell station, which slowed Britomart turnaround from 4min to 6 min!
    • Ben Ross By the way George, out of pure interest any reason I got mentioned/flagged? Just interested that’s all – as it is not like I am running for mayor here (folks)
    • George Wood Just responding to an earlier comment that you made on in another FB article Ben Ross.
    • Ben Ross All good


Here is another thread from Councillor Brewer in regards to the Minister of Transport and the CRL:

Labour’s Phil Twyford got bounced in Question Time today by the Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee on the City Rail Link who made it absolutely clear that he stands by his earlier comments that he takes big issue to the suggestion that the project is either useful or popular.
The senior minister went on to say for “around $1 million per metre” (where have I heard that phrase?) the tunneling project “will do so little”, and he slammed the latest Horizon Poll which claimed 64% of Aucklanders support the CRL.
Meanwhile, on another planet (Auckland Council) at exactly the same time, $73m was transferred into its 2013/14 CAPEX budget for the CRL, taking next year’s spend ALONE on the project to $1/4 billion!!

  • Michael Myles Murphy Yes I watched a little of the house today, it amazes me that anyone would vote for these clowns and that is both sides of the house. The downfall of democracy as I have often said this country is an asylum with the lunatics running the place, the only one who shows any decorum is Lockwood Smith.
  • Michael Myles Murphy By the way you people south of the bridge Keep your Crap.
  • Ben Ross A bugger that C&R and the Centre Right Independents on Council are fractured and can not give a unified position on the CRL (I can provide links if one wishes quite happily) leaving their flank exposed. And especially leaving their flank exposed relying on an obsolete Minister of Transport from an obsolete time, running an obsolete agenda from an obsolete ideology 60 years ago thus having obsolete thoughts, and unoriginal ideas, and thinking.

    Don’t under-estimate the City’s desires either as it looks for true vision and leadership. Something the Minister can not offer for pies, and something the Centre-Right lost in 2010 and seems to have still lost and something this current Council is losing fast…

    Time for that Broom stick


What I am pointing at is that the old guard currently in power (and having baggage to boot) are pretty entrenched in their ways and narrow thinking and mindset about the CRL (whether advancing it or abandoning it) and are not really looking at new creative ways to either advance the project, or propose a viable alternative if against the project. Thus folks Auckland is in serious trouble indeed.


Now as a promise to a fellow ratepayer in Papakura, I am trying not to sensationalise the issue there – as the old guard does that pretty well indeed.


So while the old guard gets stuck the mud, you often find others will rise to the challenge and begin to show a new leadership to advance a project forward. Creative, outside-the-square thinking, or just a fresh set of eyes and mind is often needed and I believe in the case of the City Rail Link that is the case.


Look I’ll be straight and frank, I am going to rise to that challenge and try to lead a new path in advancing the CRL. As I have stated in my “Me and The City Rail Link” post (as part of my fundamental in transport: An Integrated Approach to Transport: None of this “all for one but not the other approach” we get from both roading and Green lobbyists. Road and Mass Transit both have their places here in Auckland – albeit more balanced like the Generation Zero 50:50 campaign):

I support the City Rail Link being built but under a different time frame and development process than what the Mayor proposes.

Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).


And when you see other bloggers out there blog material like this: “300 Queen St: The Perfect Future Transit Station – By Patrick Reynolds, on November 29th, 2012″ on the potential of the City Rail Link, subsequent urban development, and the actual potential to expand the rail transit system to more Aucklanders  you know you can feel confident there are others out there wanting to advance a very critical mega project and often have similar thinking as yourself.

Patrick’s post is a post one would use (with his permission and full referencing of course) as “supporting material” to help show others the true benefits of the CRL – something the old guard just can not grasp.



Passion, determination and patience is needed to bring this mega-project to fruition. And by the looks of it, new blood and thinking is also going to be injected into Council to see this “killer app” (as someone said elsewhere) through to the end – For a Better Auckland.

All material and commentary on the City Rail Link Debate written by me at BR:AKL can be found from the City Rail Link Debate category.