Straight Thinking Digest – March 2012

March Edition of Straight Thinking Digest

I have checked with author Owen McShane who writes his regular Straight Thinking Digests which are emailed to subscribers regularly and often form the basis of his National Business Review columns that appear in the NBR also on a regular basis. Owen has given me permission to “piggy-back” his digests (unless there is an embargo) onto VOAKL. The piggy backs will be under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) portal and are not of the opinion of VOAKL unless otherwise stated by voakladmin.

Discussion and comments are fine – but please  remember all attributions should be to Owen McShane not VOAKL

And so for your Weather Bombed Weekend – I give you the first Straight Thinking Digest by Owen McShane – Centre for Resource Management Studies

Why The 12% on Port of Auckland

I have a Question – it is on Port of Auckland


A simple one – to Auckland Council


Why 12%?

Why is Auckland Council dictating to Port of Auckland via Auckland Council Investment Limited (The Council Controlled Organisation in charge of “looking after” POAL) that the Return on Investment (The Dividend) be 12%?

What is wrong with 6%? What is wrong trying to lift the ROI to 8% then 10% over a 5-10 year program? Or even forfeiting (now there is an evil word) the ROI for five years to allow POAL to conduct some very critical intensive capital investment that would get the ROI to double figures in the long run.


I ask this and I bet so does the majority of Auckland as this request for 12% ROI is plain and unitedly  insane to the point of suicidal for the port and down right criminal on Auckland Council –  to put in such a request in the first place.


Time for Auckland Council to reconsider – and get your money for transport projects from else where


From The NBR – POAL

NBR Calls for Container Terminal at POAL to Move

After reading a piece from Metro Magazine on Port of Auckland, I came across this piece from The National Business Review (NBR) also on Port of Auckland. Ok granted – the article was published last week but the relevance from Professor Tim Hazeldine (Economics – University of Auckland) is still there. You can read both pages in the embeds below but the article struck me on one account; third column of page two about half way down. I see a figure of ONE BILLION DOLLARS! That is the potential value of 50-hectares of land/real estate redevelopment if the container terminal at Port of Auckland was moved else where such as south-east Auckland as I advocate, or Marsden Point/Port of Tauranga combo that is also advocated by others.

$1,000,000,000 – wow. Look, I take it the land is and would be under the Auckland Council Investment Limited CCO (Council Controlled Organisation) if the land was redeveloped. So Auckland Council sits on a gold mine if it redevelopments the container terminal  – “gold” to help REINVEST in some other investments this city sorely needs.

Redevelopment the container terminal for both private (residential and commercial) and public (civic or “parks”) use and the money from the investment there could be used to:

  • Help pay for Port relocation to south-east Auckland (with the assistance of a POAL sell down (not privatised))
  • “Deposit” on the City Rail Link
  • Eastern Highway (as a 2-lane thoroughfare)
  • Infrastructure like water and waste water that needs upgrades
  • Pay off some debt
  • That pesky cruise ship terminal (with some change to spare)
  • Probably some deposits on some capital expenditure outlined in The Draft Long Term Plan

All the while Auckland Council gets; a nice “dividends” back on rents from the redevelopment for further investment, a connected waterfront for ALL to enjoy, trucks and freight trains off the inner roads and rail and a few other benefits of a relocated port. [Edit from admin] I forgot to mention as in the NBR article, Auckland gets a shot in the arm with residential supply being able to increase in the prime CBD area which seems to have chronic housing facility shortages at the moment (if rent and house buying bidding wars in Central Auckland are anything to go by)!

So – we run with an election pitch to get The Enquiry under way and see where to relocate OUR PORT OF AUCKLAND?

Your Port – Your Call folks – so get submitting to The Draft Long Term Plan – for our Port’s future

The NBR Article (Two embeds)

The Draft Auckland Plan (Series) – A Possible Solution to Auckland’s Housing Woes?

Is there an easier way to assist restoring housing affordability and choice in Auckland?

There has been much debate around housing affordability since the Auckland Unleashed Document was released in 2010 and The Draft Auckland Plan last year (which is now in the progress of being finalised by Auckland Council). All sorts of things have been thrown around to address this very critical issue where a the Housing Multiple for Auckland is around 6.4 (severely unaffordable) with the New Zealand median at 5.2 (also severely unaffordable). The 8th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2012 Ratings for Metropolitan Markets provides 54 pages of critical insight to the housing (un)affordability situation. The survey goes into depth of the issues and possible solutions so no need to repeat that here. What I will write on here is my idea on getting housing affordability back on track.

Last year I wrote a submission to the Draft Auckland Plan – in it a comprehensive piece was written on land use in Auckland. More to the point the submission was trying to answer this question come goal:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

So a this is where I went – taken from the Introduction of the Land Use section:

How does Auckland best allocate and utilise its land efficiently and optimally so that the goal of being the “Most Liveable (and affordable) City” can be realised.

Options suggested (but are not limited to) are the (Centralised) Master (Community) Plans where development follows a strict centralised prescription and land users then follow a strict usage covenant, to a Neo Liberalistic deregulated market approach where the Council allows the market to allocate and utilise the land per market forces (as seen in Huston, Texas). In this submission I advocate more a mix model of land allocation and utilisation to accommodate jobs, residents and support systems for Auckland.

By mixed model I mean utilising systems from various urban development and management options and using them for Auckland. This is due to the belief that a single option one size fits all would utterly fail to respond to Auckland’s current and future land use needs. In essence both the (Centralised) Master (Community) Plan and to an extent a more liberal option of land use have their place in Auckland providing some simple guidelines are followed.

So a mixed model approach is what I advocated for. I also set out some very basic urban design guidelines to “guide” the urban development processes without stifling housing type choices by potential home owners. These design principles were:

○    Would you and your family live here happily?

○    Would you work here happily?

○    Would you and your family use this recreational space while feeling safe?

○    Would it be something you would allow your next generation to inherit?

○    Not contravene the principles of the Resource Management Act 1991 (i.e. the land allocation/development/utilisation will not create severe adverse effects – or simply put, lower the amenity of the surrounding existing physical and social environment)

So with that in mind I set out a plan that allowed flexibility in land use but has some “restraints” to prevent willy nilly developments that have the potential to hurt the city. It was called the Semi Liberal Planned District and you can read on what it is and how it would potentially work in the embedded excerpt below. The Semi-Liberal Planned District Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation (SLPD_LADU) is designed to work with the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield development ratio SOON TO BE ADOPTED BY AUCKLAND COUNCIL in both urban AND rural Auckland. For the full submission click HERE.

The Semi-Liberal Planned District

However as time has drawn on since I drew up the original submission and gave the presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee (former Auckland Future Vision Committee) I continue to learn more about Auckland’s housing (un)affordability situation and the comprehensive package to address the issue – mainly reforms to the Local Government Acts 2002 and 2009 and the Resource Management Act 1991. However the Semi Liberal Planned District is a start and will be used in submissions in the Draft Long Term Plan and the upcoming reforms to the Local Government Act (they better be meaningful too) as part of a comprehensive package to restore housing affordability and effectively one’s property rights.

So onwards with fighting to good fight in restoring housing affordability. Questions and comments can be asked here in the dedicated feedback box below.

Oh and if I were to run for an “office” position – the SLPD-LADU would be pitch I would run with.

Your Feedback 

Refining the Focus

The Focus of View of Auckland

After some discussion, the holiday, more discussion and a nice think I am altering what will be presented at View of Auckland.

At the beginning I started VOAKL to look at planning issues in Auckland as The Draft Auckland Plan began calling for submissions. Post the Rugby World Cup VOAKL began running commentary on transport issues including periodically an overstep to the operational side (up until last month),  with this year running commentary on politics in Auckland as I began questioning Auckland Council decisions on some issues like Port of Auckland. Well I have had that think after some down time and talks and decided to refocus VOAKL back to her roots.

VOAKL will continue to comment, debate and offer alternatives to planning issues in Auckland. Planning issues such as land use both urban and rural in Auckland, transport planning (that is building new infrastructure like the Eastern Highway) or repositioning current infrastructure (such as a railway station) but not transport operations, and the politics around our planning that stems from The Resource Manage Act 1991, The Local Government Act 2002, and Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2009. From time to time, central government politics will come into play if it is deemed of high influence to an Auckland issue such as the City Rail Link.

Remember all I post here is of my opinion and nothing else. Although research is carried out and scouring the public domain for pieces of information to help assist what I am saying when required. I do not make informed statements – that is for the proper people and institutions to do. Also to take it from Whale Oil:

A blog (a portmanteau of the term web log)[1] is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Blogs are usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often are themed on a single subject.

So stick around folks, got heaps to write on and not enough time to do it – but one thing is for sure: I love my home – Auckland despite her shortcomings, and I took up this drive to do my bit to make Auckland a better place.

Round Two of Public Hearings

Here I go again – this time City Centre Master Plan


Right I have just confirmed that I will be at the Auckland Future Vision Committee Hearing Panel on March 12 at 3:10pm. There I will be giving a short sharp presentation on my views, concerns and alternatives to City Centre Master Plan. In particular with only 10 minutes – well five if I want some questions thrown in, I will look at pages 164-177 of the City Centre Master Plan that deals with the Waterfront. I am choosing the Waterfront as has two places I have done work on earlier and have strong places in my heart. Those two places being Wynyard Quarter and Port of Auckland.

So better brush up and get some stuff assembled for my second hearing as the continuation the battle to:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

Local Government Duties up for Reforms?

Auckland transport plans hit new funding bump – National – NZ Herald News.

Auckland‘s inner-city rail loop is at risk of being completely shunted off track by a lack of funding as the Government moves to curb council rates increases and borrowing, Local Government New Zealand says.


The prospect has been raised in a war of words between Local Government NZ and Local Government Minister Nick Smith, who says councils’ rates and borrowing have increased too quickly over the past decade and are reaching unsustainable levels.

In recent weeks Dr Smith has publicly voiced concerns about sharply rising council rates and debt ahead of a major reform package for the sector he expects to launch in the next month.

Oh dear I see the Left Right Cock fight is still in full flight especially over the City Rail Link. For heavens sake even your average “Rightie” supports the CRL and/or uses Public Transport. Unfortunately the article for is brevity misses the point of the situation.

The core of the problem that has led to this war of words and threats of derailing the City Rail Link is actually the Local Government Act 2002 which defines the powers of Councils in New Zealand.

Quoting from a comment I made in Facebook about the same linked article:

One word – well three and a number actually. Local Government Act 2002. Since 2002 rates and debt have soared since the previous Labour administration broadened the powers of Local Government to include a heck of a lot of “social” “stuff” that was previously in the domain of central government and NGOs. Looking at the Southern Initiative in the Draft Auckland Plan is a prime example of social that Central Govt should be doing OVER core activities (Rates Roads Rubbish as some of you call it). Labour through that Act fobbed off a lot of responsibility to Councils and they (Councils) still struggle due to lack of funding. As with Planning Powers – a rant in its own right. Solution: Scale back the Local Government Act 2002 and you might find rates going down.

The best way to look at it is look at the finances outlined in the current Auckland Draft Long Term Plan. How much money is raised from where, and where does it go. How much is on that CORE stuff, how much on the social stuff, and how much is luxury spending? Simply put is our money being used wisely and efficiently? I will run commentary on it as I draw up my submission to The Draft Long Term Plan.

As with planning powers Councils have, my comment to another matter in that was posted in Facebook.

Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2009 last I looked. The Auckland Plan was “mandated” by central government last I looked with the Long Term Plan coming from the Local Government Act 2002 I believe. That might of just stated something some might know but it is what Auckland go lumbered with. In a few hours we should hear which way land use went – that is any where but where it should have gone. Lay the zone for maximum density of class (say medium residential), place some urban design principles to try to avoid the horrors since 1996 and away we go – market can decide if a house or medium rise apartment goes there depending on actual demand. Then again I did cover this in length in my submission

That was in a response to the results of the deliberations of Chapter 8 – Urban Auckland in The Draft Long Term Plan.

Yes I said we had a strategic victory with Chapter 8 and a Tactical Victory with Chapter 7 (and Section B I think), however as I mentioned yesterday we still have a long way to go to realise this:

To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

The Battle continues – with me assisting in the good fight.