Andrew Dickens, Publish Date Wed, 27 Nov 2019, 9:49AM
Moving the Ports of Auckland is a no-brainer, it’s just a pity that all the discussion so far has no brain and based on the wrong things.
On Tuesday Northland Regional Council’s new chairwoman Penny Smart said relocating Auckland’s port to Northport at Marsden Point will bring strong economic benefit for the region.
No kidding Sherlock. If we just upped the port to Northland then Northland will win even if the idea is a total economic disaster for New Zealand Inc and the entire import/export sector. It also reeks of the limited thinking that all we have to do is just up the port and move it.
This followed the launch of a social media campaign on Monday which gathered the support of Helen Clark and John Key. Mr Key said it was a sensible idea to move the port to Northland while Ms Clark wombled on about the waterfront for the people. Trevor Mallard hopped on the bus as well
If I was a bitchy man I’d say that Mr Key lives in the suburb beside the port, Ms Clark lives beside a football stadium she like to see on the waterfront and Mr Mallard is the guy who first thought of the stadium on the port land. Of course they want it gone. None of their statements were enough to convince me to move to Marsden.
Then we get Mayor Phil Goff on Tuesday saying he wants the Port moved so the people of Auckland can get access to the waterfront. Again not good enough a reason.
Then we’ve got all the people who chant the waterfront should not be a carpark due to the used car import business. Which is true but the least of New Zealand’s problem with this port. The hub of the problem lies to the East of the cars with a port whose size and scale dwarfs the import of 250,000 cars a year.
The Fergusson Container Terminal is Australasia’s third biggest. Reclamation began in the 60s and it cranked up in the 70s. It’s hit expansion capacity in just 50 years. Someone then should’ve known better. It’s a 4 lane Harbour Bridge scenario all over again.
The container port handles 60% of New Zealand’s imports and 40% of its exports. Half of our economy is tied up in that expanse of concrete and as the country grows it’s capacity relatively shrinks. So much so that the Port will be at full capacity in just a few years.
There’s only one reason why we have to move the Port. It’s TOO SMALL. When it’s full half our economy will start to fail. Why do I hear no-one talking about that?
The Northport cheerleaders are doing a terrible job. Slyly ignoring the costs other than just building some wharves and a spur line. Ignoring the transition costs on road and rail links and inland ports and cross Auckland freight avenues. Ignoring the infrastructure construction capacity constraints.
Ignoring Whangarei’s capacity to absorb the growth.
Auckland’s port affects a third of the city’s economy. 600 people are employed directly but 200,000 other jobs are directly tied to the port.
Ready for those people to move north, Whangarei? Got the houses, schools and health care facilities? And the water and waste infrastructure?
Meanwhile Auckland, are you ready to lose this bedrock of your economy?
The only people who have made any sense in this whole thing so far are Steven Joyce and the Government who realise this is a holistic, nationally critical decision with implications for every part of our economy and our infrastructure and our national investment for the next half a century and beyond.
This whole thing is way above the pay grade of some local body politicians, anyone from New Zealand First who have too much skin in the game, same for CEOs of port companies, activists and former politician’s who want to meddle.
Meanwhile what would I start doing tomorrow?
For me the first thing to do is to get a dedicated rail line from the port to the inland facility in Wiri to get as many containers and cars off the wharves as soon as possible to extend the port’s life while we make a transition.
But here’s the thing on that. The only route is Hobson Bay. The home of the Remuera Nimby.
This is a monumental cock up 60 years in the making.