Reading across The Herald this morning while having morning tea and saw this:
THE REAL STORM
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.
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.
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: