Away – and Back again

At National Party Northern Region Convention

VOAKL will be away today as I will be at the National Party Northern Region Convention all day.

Will be back tomorrow continuing the commentary on the City Rail Link and Long Term Plan.


Back – decided not to go to the Dinner as I could not justify the expense to Rebekka.

So will get some smaller VOAKL commentary pieces up and oh shit – The Macro Business SUPER ROUND UP 2 needs to be done as well for your Sunday reading. Right better get cracking


Judgement Day has Arrived – Round One

Auckland Council Firms up Long Term Budget


And quoting from the NZ Herald article:

Mayor Len Brown‘s first 10-year budget is certain to receive a stormy reception from councillors today.

Citizens & Ratepayers leader Christine Fletcher has indicated as much, saying the time is not right for a big budget and big spend-up.

But Mr Brown seems determined to press ahead with a long-term plan that incorporates major projects, notably the central rail loop, in his quest to make Auckland among the world’s most liveable cities, while at the same time restricting rate increases.

Now that does defy standard macro-economic convention on: Save in a Boom, Spend in a Bust – to which dropping some cash on the CRL and some leaky storm water pipes might be a good time to do now while the borrowing is cheap.

That aside – it is JUDGEMENT DAY ROUND ONE (Round Two is tomorrow when Minister of Finance, Bill English delivers his fourth Budget) for Auckland Council.

What projects will make the cut, what will get scrapped, more to the point what is my rates bill going to be come July 1, and will this be the opening silo for the 2013 Local Elections.

VOAKL will run extensive commentary on the Long Term Plan 2012-2022 decisions on Friday. Yep that means I miss a Scoop by 24 hours, however I do have to work to earn my keep and pay my rates to Auckland Council. Also tomorrow is Budget Day to which I will be paying attention, AS WELL AS May 24th is my Birthday – so well yeah…

Mind you I will be keeping tabs via Facebook, and Twitter through the day as our Mayor and Auckland Council engage in their version of Pistol Shoot-out at dawn to keep tabs on the developments with the LTP.

I need not remind Councillors to BE WARNED as I am sure they have it now at the FRONT of their minds 😀

However – Auckland is Watching, Today is Judgement Day!


A Look at Auckland

NZ Herald Running Pieces on Auckland


The NZ Herald is running some separate pieces on Auckland today ranging from; the cruise ship terminal to Council Assets.

Lets take a brief look at two articles shall we?


Aucklanders say no to asset sales

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says Aucklanders have made it clear they do not want strategic assets to be sold, and other alternatives to rates rises are being considered to fund the city’s projects.

His comments come after Local Government Minister David Carter hinted at a Government preference for councils around the country to opt for asset sales to fund projects, rather than increase rates.

The $2.86 billion central rail loop remains the prime project in Mr Brown’s first 10-year budget, which faces a bumpy ride from councillors on Wednesday.

The day before Finance Minister Bill English unveils the Government’s Budget, Mr Brown and councillors will lock horns in the Auckland Town Hall over a $58 billion Super City budget.

Seems the first half of the article is looking at the eventual pistols at dawn style shoot out coming up on Wednesday as Auckland Council firms up the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan. A shame I have to work that day as it is bound to be a lively meeting at the minimum – however VOAKL will run commentary on this situation as it happens. I also notice Main Stream Media are using the $2.86b (up from $2.4b last year) figure for the CRL – only $740m short to the Fallacy figure I have given. Of which I urge the boys at Auckland Transport Blog to get a credible CRL proposal for the tunnel and ALL three stations, plus Aotea Station being future proofed for the eventual North Shore Line together sooner rather than later. I urge you gentlemen as I have complete and utter faith that you guys can keep the CRL on the straight and narrow 😀 – no pressure 😛 .

To the topic of asset sales though:

Asset sales urged

Ahead of the council’s budget announcement, Local Government Minister David Carter urged councils around the country to consider the sale of strategic assets rather than rates rises to fund projects.

Mr Carter told TVNZ’s Q & A yesterday that local governments were in a similar position to central government, which intends to balance the books by selling up to 49 per cent of shares in the state-owned energy companies, and a further stake in Air NZ.

“If they [local governments] find a way where they can sell down some of their assets to maintain the funding, to deliver some other infrastructure required within in their communities, in principle, I would support that. But having said that … it would still be a decision for local councils to make,” Mr Carter said.

“If they had shares in an airport or shares in a port company, they may well decide they could sell down some of those shares to help them provide the infrastructure which their community’s demanding of them.

On asset sales, I have advocated in an enquiry on the Port of Auckland ownership model and whether Council should sell down its POAL stake. The comment was made during my Port of Auckland Relocation coverage as a way for assisting in moving the Port as well as introducing Private Sector discipline and freeing up cash for a deposit on the CRL. I believe if the conditions are right that Auckland Council could reduce its holding in POAL by 25-75% to use the cash for investing in other infrastructure assets of high value such as the CRL. It will need skill and conviction but can be done. Pragmatism against ideological dogma…

New $18.6m design for terminal

It’s back to basics for a cruise-ship terminal on Queens Wharf after the sinking of grand proposals costing $49 million and $29 million.

Faced with community and political resistance, Mayor Len Brown has leaned on Waterfront Auckland to come up with a new design costing ratepayers $18.6 million.

Instead of demolishing the century-old Shed 10 for a $49.2 million new terminal favoured by the Government in 2010, or choosing an $28.7 million makeover of Shed 10 promoted by Waterfront Auckland last year, the council will decide on Wednesday whether to proceed with an $18.6 million design.

Shed 10 would still be more than 50 per cent bigger than the current cruise-ship facility on Princes Wharf but have a more basic fit-out that leaves much of the ground floor as is and refurbishes the upper level to unveil its wooden floors and steel trusses.

Windows would be added to open up harbour views. The two floors would be linked by two internal staircases.

Well credit is due to our resident Prude – Mayor Brown for down-scaling the costs here. However the answer from VOAKL is still NO! Want it? Then slug a $20 per passenger on a Cruise Ship Tax (much like an airport tax) to pay for the “temporary” terminal until THIS ONE is built further east. We have other projects that are sorely needed and sorry a Cruise Ship Terminal being built with ratepayers money is just not on.

So Wednesday is all go with pistols at dawn as the Mayor and Council face off in firming up the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan.

VOAKL will be keeping an eye – especially as the first rates instalment hits our letter boxes in July.



Urban Design Shootout



Now if only this would turn into a good old-fashioned John Wayne Texas pistols at dawn shoot-out  – would have a classic Western drama.

Well actually drama and the shoot-out did happen, just not with pistols but with robust and strong debate.

The 20th Congress of New Urbanism was held in West Palm Beach, Florida just recently – and well read the article and see what happened:

I knew there was the possibility that this month’s Congress of New Urbanism — CNU20 — in West Palm Beach would be an exercise in brainwashing. While I was excited to be meeting some of the thinkers at the forefront of my profession, I certainly was aware that the founders of the movement were opinionated and outspoken. The number of attendees has way outgrown the close dinner group that began New Urbanism more than 20 years ago, but heavy hitters like Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Ellen Dunham-Jones, and John Norquist, to name a few, still have a big hand in the direction of the movement.

I was pleasantly surprised to find just the opposite. The first session was a debate on theology between two very prominent urban designers, Daniel Solomon and Andres Duany, which set the tone of challenging our own and each other’s beliefs in what New Urbanism is and should be.

You can read the rest at the New Geography site.

However I do point out to the video that was captured of the debate:

[Note you will need Microsoft Silver Light before you can watch the video]

WATCH Live: Looking Forward: New Urbanism and the New World


Very fiery but very robust and had me asking questions.

VOAKL will follow-up with commentary on the recent CNU 20 convention over the winter.  

Macro Business SUPER Round Up

The Super Round Up of this weeks events at Macro Business

Right after a delay in getting the Wednesday edition of the Macro Business Round Up, I have decided to give a combination Wednesday’s and Sunday’s in a Super Round up.

So today for your weekend and Monday Reading I give the Macro Business SUPER Round Up.

As there is a lot of links and material (being a hot week in the economic division) I am dividing the Super Round Up into three categories:

  1. China and all things linked to China (including Australia and its mining boom)
  2. The Australian (Domestic and Political) Economy (so looking at housing, retail/consumer and political news)
  3. The EU and the constant doom and gloom coming out of that area

China and all things linked to China (including Australia and its mining boom)

From the news floating around at the moment, it would appear not all is well in China. Debt deflation, messy leadership succession, growth falling off, money and charts on the run, and Chinese consumers spooked all seem to be pointing to what pundits are calling a hard landing of the Chinese Economy. Take some time and grab your favourite drink while reading the various links on happenings in China. While the Chinese central authorities are trying nurse the world’s second biggest economy into a soft landing, there is a genuine fear that control could be lost and the landing harder than either anticipated or wanted by the world. Put it this way if China does go in hard (I doubt we would see a full-blown crash and wreck), the effects to the USA, Australia and even New Zealand will be felt in; frozen export growth, business exchange and investment projects (Chinese to assist with the City Rail Link), coupled with shaken consumer confidence going really south could play havoc on those economies. Put it this way, the 1983 Mining Boom Crash in Australia which saw them in a virtual recession through to 1996 (when Little Johny Howard got elected) could happen all over again and be even worse. I hope my New Zealand counterparts chasing the dream over there have a back up plan if it does go tits up in Aussie because its going to be doubly hard when you can not claim the benefits a fully fledged Australian can. I also have an inkling New Zealand might not be also welcoming to those wanting to come back home…

So those links on all things China for you – see what you make of it

China links No# 2 by 

Wenzou’s debt deflation by 

China’s new housing starts turn negative by 

Phat Dragon gets uncomfortable by Houses and Holes

China cuts the RRR by 

China’s ugly April by 

China links by 

The Australian Economy

After the Aussie Budget was released two weeks ago, news and commentary has been flying thick and fast on the health of Australia’s two-speed economy. Two-speed with the fact the Mining Boom is running in 6th gear (flat-out) while the rest of the economy is either in 1st gear or even in reverse gear. Now imagine if you were a car or truck and the front wheels where going in 6th gear forward (so flat-out) but the rear end was in first gear or reverse. Drag would be the word I would be looking for, as well as damage. That is what is basically happening in Australia, a two-speed economy that is getting effectively dragged and damaged at the same time. The Mining Boom should be translating through to the entire economy with consumers confident and spending. However consumers are pessimistic despite this boom and that pessimism is damaging the Aussie economy, for what should be solid growth for all is anything but. The Housing (which needs correction anyway) and Retail market are suffering badly despite money being pumped in from this Mining Boom. But chart after chart is constantly showing this entrenched pessimism in the domestic economy. Are consumers still suffering the hang over from the Global Financial Crisis four years ago, or has China and its uncertainty got people spooked? What ever the case, Australia is struggling and will really struggle when this current mining boom ends.

As a side note, neither side in Australian politics seem capable in rebalancing the two-speed economy so it is a more balanced even one.  If Mad Monk Abbot of the Australian Liberal Party (lol same as the Australian Labor Party – ALP 😛 ) could not come up with a credible Shadow Budget (his was the virtual same as the government’s) then simply put for Australia – ouch.

Although closer to home in New Zealand – things are not that healthy either economic or politics wise. But I do wonder with Kiwi’s going over – do they know what they are in for when getting there?

Rate cut flops with consumers by 

In the poo by 

Sorry Dr Henry, Australia is not a safe haven by 

State austerity to hit growth by 

Australia’s pincer is closing again by 

First home buyers desert housing market by 

Ratings agencies are the great enabler by 

A bottom in QLD mortgage volumes by 

Leith van Onselen on ABC ‘s “The Business” by Houses and Holes

Pincer update by Houses and Holes

My kingdom for a liberal by Houses and Holes

Homes for sale surge, rentals fall by 

The EU and the constant doom and gloom coming out of that area

No commentary from me here, just go read the links and be depressed on the harsh EU Economic Winter. Advice for Britain, leave the EU now and set up a Commonwealth Free Trade Area Agreement – could be better for your health.

Europe’s growth gulf by 

Europe is falling apart by 

Don’t bet on a European resolution by Houses and Holes

How much does Greece owe? by Houses and Holes

Europe’s black cygnets grow by 

One thing I did note, Germany and some eastern EU states are doing quite well while Western EU states are in the bog. Err last time I remember that happening, a conflict flared up between The British Empire and The German Empire – World War One as the two economic power houses vied for dominance (amongst other reasons). However with France in its current state and the French heading to London to escape the impending 75% Wealth Tax, I would say things are looking rosy for the former Imperial power (if the Tories don’t scotch it).


And that is the SUPER Round Up for this week.

The next Macro Business Round Up will be published on Wednesday – the day before the New Zealand Budget is delivered by Bill English.