We have Already LOST? – The Port of Auckland Debate

The Insider: The real storm in Auckland ports – Politics – NZ Herald News


Reading across The Herald this morning while having morning tea and saw this:


The Ports of Auckland dispute with the Maritime Union is a sideshow compared with the looming battle over the port’s container business and expansion plans.

Last week’s Auckland Council decision to review the port’s future only postpones the big fight, and the powerbrokers are arming themselves with lobbyists, PR companies, law firms and economists.

Backing the port is Wellington-based multinational SweeneyVesty and former Act press secretary Trish Sherson.

At Waterfront Auckland, which backs the port and its growth plans, is former National Party president Sue Wood and media supremo Bill Ralston.

Against the port is Heart of the City’s Alex Swney, supported by Auckland marketing gurus Pead PR.

So far, Wellington lobbyists Saunders Unsworth have remained on the sidelines, given their long association with the 14-member port company CEO group

While I have already foresaw this after the MUNZ vs. POAL issue finally subsides, this is still not the news myself and ratepayers want to exactly here. Effectively in the big guns are already squaring up then we as the little people – the individual ratepayers who OWN Port of Auckland have already lost.

It is sad but true – we of Auckland will lose out to the money and PR machine of the big guns and most likely have an outcome lugged upon us that is of no benefit to the city nor us (however I can stand to be corrected at the end of this). I shall tell you why we have already lost in the Our Port, Our Call debate that is Port of Auckland’s location.

One reason is the big money that is about to be thrown in this three-way debate that does not even cover the entire scope of the question that needs to be asked. The question being and that I (and another person) asked (well five actually):

1) Is the Ports of Auckland investment achieving approx 6% ROI, or isn’t it? And if not, what is its ROI?; and

2) Were there any significant work performance issues at the Ports of Auckland that would justify the Board of Directors and its Chairman contemplating a move to contract out the stevedoring function? And if so, what were those performance issues?; and

3) Is what McCarten claims true, about the current Board of Directors having a relatively-thin level of experience in operating a Port? And if so, why are they on the Board, and what possible value do they hope to bring to our valuable Public Asset?

4) For the sake of optimal Return on Investment and Productivity in benefit to the wider economy and social environment: Which ownership model would be considered best for Port of Auckland Limited.

  • 100% Council Owned
  • 75% Council Owned, 25% Private owned
  • Mixed Model: 51% Council Owned, 49% Private Owned
  • Minority Holding: 75% Private, 25% Council Owned
  • Full Privatisation


5) For the sake of optimal Return on Investment and Productivity in benefit to the wider economy and social environment: What location would be most suited for Port of Auckland:

  • Port stays where it is and infrastructure upgrades are committed
  • Port gets relocated to somewhere INSIDE Auckland, example south east Auckland
  • Port is relocated somewhere OUTSIDE Auckland. That would mean Port of Tauranga, and Marsden Point in Northland – which would also give way to subsequent infrastructure upgrades as well.


These five above questions need to be answered sooner rather than later – especially as these questions and possible outcomes would have major bearing on The Draft Auckland Spatial Plan and The Draft Long Term Plan. Enough of a major bearing that no matter which way the enquiry recommends in questions four and five – it could basically force a total re-write of both draft plans.


As for who would conduct this enquiry and the time frame needed, the enquiry board would consist of up to seven people drawing on from: business, industry, engineers and academics to give as broad-range yet expert research advice as possible. The time frame for such an enquiry would be around six to nine months, be fully autonomous from Auckland Council but funded by the Council. The enquiry would be allowed to draw on lobby and public input if deemed required and the final research report plus recommendations should be made public from the onset – as this is of high interest to the wider city and economy.

So big money will be able to lobby, campaign and frame the opinion on Port of Auckland to Auckland Council, we the little people – the individuals, families and local communities will simple get drowned out. Drowned out (and the second reason) as all we can do: is either write a letter to our Councillors, maybe a letter to the editor, hold a Facebook conversation or write a submission to the Draft Long Term Plan. We just simply do not have the measured resources to go up against big money.

By the way as a side note (and a rather massive one at that) – why is the Council Controlled Organisation – Waterfront Auckland partaking in this debate siding with THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL OPTION OF THE ENTIRE LOT? That CCO should be dead-set neutral and facilitating the debate – not participating in it by being on one of the three sides. Conflict of Interest MUCH with the CCO, Auckland Council and Aucklanders who OWN THAT WATERFRONT. By owning it means Waterfront Auckland follows OUR WISHES – not their own.

With big money and big resources being summoned in this Port of Auckland container debate, we effectively get three pre-determined outcomes of which one will be chosen. There will be no debate, no discussion – just a monologue from the PR firms and a token sham of consultation where we might have a “say.” With the three pre-determined outcomes there is no chance of bringing in new ideas for a robust debate – an idea that could be the best idea of the lot for all of Auckland. So in that regard are we stuck with a second or even third-grade choice with POAL.

The funny thing is all this could have been avoided if Auckland Council held that independent enquiry I asked for – to which all I got was this from ACIL.

So time to square myself up for a good old fashion fight. Time to sharpen that pencil and get cracking with my submission on Port of Auckland in the Draft Long Term Plan. Time to get VOAKL ready for being the portal of alternative commentary in the POAL debate:

VOAKL:  MY Voice – OUR Auckland – OUR Port – OUR Call.


Auckland Council does have Leadership – unlike CTU

Auckland Council lacking leadership to help resolve Ports | Scoop News.


I was going to comment of this yesterday but ran out of time. However Cameron Slater at Whale Oil did manage to pick up on the matter this morning in his Blog.


However reading the Council of Trade Union’s press release I noticed some misinformation from its President – Helen Kelly.

Ports of Auckland workers are disappointed that the Auckland Council has lacked the necessary leadership to help resolve the current employment negotiations at the Ports.

Today the Auckland Council voted down motions from Cr Richard Northey calling for resumption of collective bargaining, and from Cr Cathy Casey calling for a review of the Ports’ requirement for a 12% return on equity.


I was reassured by two councillors yesterday that Cllr Northey’s motion was WITHDRAWN not voted down. As for Cllr Casey’s motion – that did get voted down although a shame it was (something I might be changing after seeing the Official Minutes of that Meeting) my letter which ACIL replied to did want to look at the 12% Return on Investment from Council.


I have also noticed this:

Bit inappropriate for Councillors to be having a scrap on Facebook. I see it as Conduct Unbecoming and Bringing a Company or Institution into Disrepute. Of which earns a Warning or Dismissal in the Private Sector. For the Public Sector time for a Censure of the wayward Councillors (some be their third one in three weeks)?


Look, Council and Mayor Len Brown have done the right thing in the POAL industrial relations saga to which I applaud them for. The one thing maybe Council should have done is seek advice and services of the Minister of Labour and Department of Labour to help resolve the dispute. Sadly we do not have something like Fair Work Australia that settled the QANTAS industrial relations dispute.

However we have a bigger fight coming up with POAL. Something I will be covering soon at POAL.



Councillor Brewer Sounds Out the CRL

Govt buy-in on City Rail Link needed | Scoop News.

This press release was brought to my attention through the former admin of AKT Blog site Jon C. You can read the press release for yourself and make what you will of it. 

This press release was brought to my attention this morning AFTER I had given my presentation yesterday on the City Centre Master Plan to the Auckland Plan Committee.

Clock Tower building, University of Auckland

Coincidence or strange sense of irony – but what Cllr Cameron Brewer has mentioned hear is what I touched on in my presentation yesterday (as well as Wynyard Quarter). In brief I said this about the City Rail Link:

  1. I support it
  2. Using the Rail Fallacy the actual cost will be near $3.6 billion and be completed around 2025-ish
  3. A Priority Two Project per my original submission with completion around the 2022-2032 mark. In other words the middle 10 years of The Auckland Plan
  4. Need to get Wellington on board
  5. Need to step back, have a proper debate and get some savings done first (that part was not mentioned)

Back to release again and agreeing with Jon, I also believe the CRL has gone super quiet. This is especially while the Draft Auckland Plan is being finalised, AND the Draft Long Term Plan (that would fund this mega-project) is calling for submissions. Time to re-kick a ever-more expensive project back into the spot light for another look? VOAKL thinks so.

Further more I do not personally agree with $8 million been spent on consultants when the University of Auckland – our flagship university is more than able to do the task better in: research, results and price.

So is the blind leading the blind here on the City Rail Link and lumbering the city an enormous cost that we are simply not ready for yet? I say so. So lets all step back, pause, and breath and come to the CRL question again with clear minds.

As I do not look forward to paying 25% of my rates in 2021 on $520m worth of interest on an $8.4b DEBT!!!

Thank You

A Thank You to the Auckland Plan Committee.


Just would like to extend a thank you to Councillors and Officers (Mr Campbell-Read and his assistants) for hearing my presentation on the City Centre Master Plan.

Short sharp and sweet was the key to this one with focus on the City Rail Link and Wynyard Quarter.

A thank you to Chairman Councillor George Wood on the complement of the work and presentations I have produced – to which YES: I will be back for the Draft Long Term Plan when hearings are up for that.


And yes Cllr Brewer is right you can follow me on Facebook – or this blog 😀

It is also good to hear other submitters as well – great to know what they are thinking and positions are.

Again thank you folks for your time and appreciation

And to answer Cllr Casey’s question – make an offer 😛 😀

The Office – Should I or Not?

VOAKL Takes a Look Forward to the 2013 Local Government Elections and Why I give a Damn about Auckland.


In October 2013, we get to go to the polls to elect our: Mayor, Councillors, Local Board members, and a few others such as District Health Boards and maybe the odd Trust floating around. For Auckland that means voting in our second Super City Mayor and Council after the establishment of Auckland Council in 2009. The “terms” in which the 2013 election will be fought will be probably nothing short of an utter bloodbath with five potential major issues that will shape the campaign:

  1. Rates – will the 10% proposed rate rises in some area’s fly while others (myself included) get a Rates reduction. Is there smarter ways to raise revenue for Auckland, and can we avoid $8.4 BILLION of debt that would mean ratepayers would be forking out $504-odd-million in debt interest payments (some 25% of one’s rates) in the year 2021. 
  2. Port of Auckland. With the Left members of Council about to lob a nuke on the 16th and really make the mayor look silly (although done right and the mayor will really come out with integrity intact and look like a statesman) and the Maritime Union continuing its immolation of itself, Aucklander‘s will side with either one that is Pro-MUNZ; or one that is not so Pro-MUNZ, has the respect of the word of law, is pragmatic, and some sense of intelligence on what they can or can not do as an elected official of Auckland. With Port of Auckland, there will be debate and some blood letting around the port in its current location and whether it expands in its current spot of gets the literal heave-ho to another spot in Auckland.
  3. The City Rail Link. Some say $2.4 billion and completed by 2021, I say $3.6b and completed by 2025-2032. The CRL will act as a lightning rod on large scale projects and whether huge amounts of capital (that would ultimately borrowed) should be on rail, roads or buses.
  4. Rates, Roads and Rubbish. I have been trotting the battle cry of the centre-right Citizens and Ratepayers group (CnR) as some are alarmed at the incoming rates rises. With the Minister of Local Government, Dr Nick Smith about to launch some “reforms” on Local Government, I have been rather noisy on getting savings on ratings if the Local Government Act 2002 was thrown out and a new piece of legislation was put in place that reflected more on core council operations. The catch is one has to define “core operations” first – for example if we removed the “Social” aspect from Council, then $5.5b from the Lifestyle and Cultural “division” would be saved from the Council budget. So there could be very well at battle here – but it needs to be done properly otherwise just focusing on capping rates without dumping the legislation that causes the original issue is rather dumb.
  5. The Auckland Draft Plan and The Draft Long Term Plan. Both set out Auckland for the next while with the LTP setting out council revenue (rates) and expenditure over the next ten years. Now both plans have been (or currently are) through the submission process with the public, businesses and interest groups having a say (I did that was for sure). The Council is about to finalise and set these two plans into motion to which will influence or dictate what happens to the city over a period of time. However 2013 could be seen as a ratification exercise to both sets of plans and whether Auckland accepts or rejects them. How so? I was advised that The Auckland Plan can be altered on the election of a new council and that the LTP can modified through the introduction of the Long Term Plan 2015-2025 by the new council as well. So if there is major opposition to the Auckland and Long Term Plan (2012-2022) a new council could under take a rewriting exercise.


So those five outlooks could be what the Auckland Council election fought on and who gets elected depending on the mood (and intelligence) of Auckland voters. Who would be mayor and the make up of councillors from 2013 – I would say despite the Left’s immolation, Len would be in for a second term with a centre-right/centre dominated council – in other words the Left gets decimated hard. Numbers wise I would say out of 20 councillors 7 would be CnR, 5 from Labour/Greens and 8 independents plus Len as mayor. And if those numbers became actual in 2013 – that would make it a very interesting Council for the next three years.


So Why Do I Give a Damn About Auckland


Because Auckland is my home, always has been and she always will be – through the good, bad and down right ugly. I have been in Australia previous for two years working but always found Auckland was home. Also through my upbringing I have been taught to look out for others before you and that The Best of Both Worlds will often be the best solution to a tricky problem with “the sides” entrenched in their bunkers and not willing to move. I am an idealist but that is tempered by my realism side as well (The CRL is proof of that) and have a knack of running head long into a crisis when others run the other way. And with that running headlong into a crisis comes leadership, diplomacy, courage and determination to stick it out often with the troops and see through the crisis to its end.

I have been keeping a tabs on politics since I was small and remember the 1993 MMP referendum, The Employment Contracts Act 1991, National’s dark days from 1998-2004 and through later years the Clark regime that led to the Key regime from 2008 (oh by the way I am 27 in May). City, urban and transport planning wise, been doing that since I could play Simcity 2000 way back in the 90s (and continued to do so through to SC4 and soon SC5 (2013). So through politics and Sim City my interest in those realms has always been high – and now translated into literal form as I actively lobby and participate in politics. Starting with being a Nat since 2003 to my very first submission on Auckland, I care about this city my home and therefore participate in the processes that have the potential to make this city a better place. My About page has a little bit more about me.

So I started View of Auckland – my own blog after some inspiration from a few other blogs (you can find those on the right hand side in the Blogroll). VOAKL is my portal in voicing my opinion on Auckland issues and often putting forward alternatives to what is out there. VOAKL builds on work I do when I write submissions to Council (or central government) or runs commentary on topical issues of the day. While I voice opinions and alternatives at other blogs, VOAKL is my home and voice on issues that affect Aucklanders. VOAKL gives an insight to why I give a damn about Auckland.


So then do I put my money where my mouth is?

I care about this city and want to see if grow and do well, I also lobby and put in submissions to Auckland Council in doing my part in participating in democracy to make Auckland a better place. But do I put money where my mouth is and go that one step further? Should I have a crack at local politics itself and try to work things from the inside OR continue to work things from the outside via lobbying and submissions?

All questions that need to thought over very carefully before ANY decision is made next year.


But always – I give a damn about this city and is the reason why I do what do – in my part in making Auckland a better place for all

The Left willing to Nuke itself – good and propper.

Council fratricide on Thursday – pass it on | Whale Oil Beef Hooked | A blog by Cameron Slater.

The agenda is also here where this senseless motion will be tabled and called for on the 16th.

Although Cam beat to the punch with a post on this particular issue, I will add-on some of my own thoughts about this.

This is my Facebook comment I made when I saw this whole thing start to pop up:

The “Left” must have really left their brains back at the POAL Picket Line. That recommendation if endorsed would commit the Council to something near illegal IF NOT ILLEGAL. This screams Conflict of Interest all over the place – it really does. If the resolution does pass and the Mayor had voted against it, it would not humiliate Brown at all. If anything it will show Aucklanders who have more of clue than some Len’s resolve while destroying the Left next elections. I think its time advice was taken from the Ministers of Labour and Local Government on this.
Look my comment says it all – apart from the fact that the Left are effectively going to walk in, set a nuke and detonate it causing the best case of self infliction I have ever seen in local politics. While the fallout will basically consume Council making the next 18 months (until the next local elections) look like a lame-duck. Oh yay for poor Auckland with a hostile city, a Draft Auckland Plan and a Draft Long Term Plan all about to be set and finalised.
Councillor George Wood of CnR (the opposition in Council (Citizens and Ratepayers)) did post this comment though:
I believe that the Auckland Council Accountability and Performance committee will merely receive the documents from Councillor Northey and not make any decisions on the merits of the points that Cr Northey raises. Councillors that I have talked with since this came out certainly don’t believe that it would be helpful, in all the circumstances, to do otherwise.
Lets hope so for everyone’s sake.
As for Mayor Brown – he will survive this is he goes against the motion – those of the Centre, Centre-Right and who are fed up with MUNZ (have a clue in other words) would realise Len is in a tough spot and is doing okay though all this – plus a man with greater integrity than if he did side with the motion.
If I were a shrewd person I would start considering some options here if the Motion does pass. Might it be time for some new blood unaffected by the POAL disaster to enter Council and repair a damaged ship before setting sail on new directions for the sake of Auckland? Time for some phone calls and a few litres of tea, beer, wine and a few kilos of scones?


David Farrar: The Mayor for all of Auckland – National – NZ Herald News.

Well Farrar can say what he likes, but to me in my own sound mind and judgement Len is proving to be Statesman with his integrity intact through his stance on Port of Auckland.

While some Councillors have really sullied themselves through putting themselves in a conflict of interest by being alongside the protesters down at the Port (you must be impartial and neutral in affairs like this), Len has gone through this sorry Industrial Relations saga as I would expect as The Mayor of Auckland.

The Mayor of Auckland who is not an executive mayor like The Mayor of London or New York, The Mayor of Auckland is basically a glorified councillor who represents all of Auckland through effectively being The Chair of Auckland Council – and our voice to Central Government Wellington.

I would be horrified (thus thankful for the legislation with the Council Controlled Organisations marking independence of operations like POAL against the Governing Body (The Council)) if The Mayor “intervened” in the dispute as that is down right interference through and through. Not the way to run the city or its assets.

What Rudman states in his countenance article is exactly what we DO NOT NEED. Rudman and MUNZ supporters would be intelligent to realise there is legislation in place that prevents Mayor Brown from intervening in the POAL dispute. And the legislation probably gives rise to why Central Government does not intervene as well. However if MUNZ and its backers had the slightest clue, they would have petitioned the Minister of Labour to ask the Department of Labour for full mediation and arbitration of the affair – to which if that failed, the Minister could resort to some executive action to break the deadlock.

So MUNZ and co – please consult the Minister please and ask DOL for assistance which they legally can – rather than “shit-bombing” Len for something he can not do.

SO SHOUT OUT TO LEN BROWN – for integrity and resolve in the POAL dispute when some have none.

Oh and Len must be doing ok with POAL is The Right are surprised and admiring his stance through all this. Len for Centre/Centre-Right Prime Minister?

That seems to be doing the rounds – courtesy of someone in National


City Centre Master Plan Presentation

On Monday 12th March at 3:10pm I am due to give my second presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee at Town Hall (formerly the Auckland Future Vision Committee) – this time on the City Centre Master Plan.

The presentation is embedded below – but if focuses on two core aspects: The City Rail Link (including Parnell Station), and Wynyard Quarter.

The presentation effectively builds on three prospects:

  1. The CRL and The Rail Fallacy – in other words the true reflective cost of around $3.6 BILLION for the CRL and the fact most likely completion will not be until between 2025-2032.
  2. Parnell Station –  a station that should have never have left the Drawing Board AT ALL!!!
  3. Wynyard Quarter: A mix of Sea+City plus my first ever Urban Design work in 2010 as a University post-grad student

No doubt I will get some curly questions – especially as some of my points are on the controversial side. Put it this way, two years ago my Wynyard Quarter proposal was controversial (more development than otherwise planned by original plans) and I got grilled heavily by my former class-mates. But I withstood the flak and walked away with an honourable grade reflecting some outside-the-box thinking and sticking to my guns (and able to bat-away questions with ease (only because the class was ganging up on me – they did not like the “enquiring-light” shone on them (hmm sounds like our Central Planners today…))).

So here I go again – although not the last time I will be presenting in front of Council formally. Could be presenting on the Waterfront Plan – which would be looking at Port of Auckland with an electron microscope; and will be presenting on my submission to The Draft Long Term Plan for sure.

The Presentation for Monday

Five Leadership Mistakes Of The Galactic Empire – Forbes

Five Leadership Mistakes Of The Galactic Empire – Forbes.


And to provide a countenance against Captain James T. Kirk’s leadership here is one on Leadership MISTAKES – courtesy of The Galactic Empire.

Now this one is for MUNZ after 292 union workers got the sack at Port of Auckland. But this is also a warning to Auckland Council as well especially this bit:

Mistake #2: Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.

And this bit (especially around the Transport Budget in the Draft Long Term Plan)

Mistake #4: Focusing all of the organization’s efforts into a single goal and failing to consider alternatives.

So a warning to Auckland Council there – and even more of a warning in the fact we are a democracy and can elect or remove representatives unlike the Galactic Empire.