Claims Ports of Auckland move to Whangārei is impractical just ‘snobbery’

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has rubbished a trucking association report that says moving Ports of Auckland north would be impractical.

The recently-released report, commissioned by the National Road Carriers Association, looked at the costs and challenges for road freight of moving Ports of Auckland to Northport at Whangārei’s Marsden Point.

Such a move, expected to cost $10 billion, has been favoured by a Government-backed working party, although a final decision on the move is not expected before this year’s election.

Posts of Auckland handles about one third of the nation’s container trade and two million tonnes of general cargo (file photo).
DAVID WHITE/STUFFPosts of Auckland handles about one third of the nation’s container trade and two million tonnes of general cargo (file photo).

But the road carriers’ report said moving Auckland’s port to Northport would be logistically impractical, prohibitively expensive, increase greenhouse gas emissions and add to traffic congestion, by increasing truck trips between Northland and Auckland.

It calculated 340,000 heavy truck trips and 27,000 freight trains would be needed to carry goods from Northport to the proposed inland port at Swanson, in West Auckland, and said current road and rail is not up to scratch.

The National Road Carriers Association says 340,000 trucks and 27,000 freight trains will be needed to transport goods from Northland to Auckland if the ports move (file photo).
ROSA WOODS/STUFFThe National Road Carriers Association says 340,000 trucks and 27,000 freight trains will be needed to transport goods from Northland to Auckland if the ports move (file photo).

The report concludes Ports of Auckland should continue in its current location until it can’t handle further growth, and a super port in the Firth of Thames or Manukau Harbour should be considered as part of a 100-year plan.

But Jones said the report was part of Auckland’s “snobbery” against Tai Tokerau, by favouring a new port instead of the existing deep water port in Northland.

Building a new port in the Firth of Thames would require billions of dollars more than moving to Northport and require an act of Parliament to sign off the resource consent, he said, while using Manukau Harbour would require ships to cross “the most treacherous bar” in the country.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says moving Ports of Auckland to Northport makes more sense than trying to build a new port in Auckland.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY-IMAGESRegional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says moving Ports of Auckland to Northport makes more sense than trying to build a new port in Auckland.

“With Ports of Auckland, there’s no free pass, so obviously I’ve always promoted further utilisation of Northport because it’s got excess capacity, it’s a natural deep access way and it’s a key feature in regional development.”

Jones said the road carriers’ report was also about the trucking industry trying to defend its own interests, which are coming under threat as New Zealand looks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

The port move is reliant on rail and the current Government has already spent more than $200 million on upgrading the North Auckland Rail Line, including $40m to buy land for a rail spur out to Marsden Point which has now been secured, he said.

A further $700m has been allocated to build a four-lane highway south of Whangārei, Jones said.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS WILL INCREASE

But the National Road Carriers Association report has been backed by the Road Transport Forum, which said moving freight Ports of Auckland to Northport was “folly”.

Chief executive Nick Leggett said the plan made even less sense in the post-Covid environment.

“New Zealand cannot bear the brunt of the huge $10 billion upfront capital cost required to get Northport and its road and rail supply lines up to task, let alone the supply chain disruption and the five-fold increase in road transport costs that will hit the pockets of householders directly,” he said.

“All household goods, including groceries, will go up significantly if freight comes into New Zealand some 200km further away from its markets.”

FURTHER INFORMATION TO BE RELEASED

A report on the options for relocating the Ports of Auckland freight functions, undertaken by independent consultants Sapere on behalf of the Ministry of Transport, has now been provided to ministers.

A timetable for the information’s release is being finalised by the ministry but Jones would like it be released in the next 10 days.

The report comes after the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working party, headed by former Far North mayor Wayne Brown, favoured a $10b plan to shift the ports north, recommending it be done within 15 years.

But the working party’s work has been heavily criticised, with reviews saying it failed to provide a credible basis for making a decision on the move.

Cabinet wanted to see more analysis before making a decision. Jones said that decision would now become an election issue.

NZ firms Fletchers and Downer ‘fuming’ as $371m Govt KiwiRail contract goes overseas

Construction companies Fletcher and Downer are reportedly “fuming” after a $371 million Government rail contract has been awarded to overseas companies – costing the Kiwi firms hundreds of local jobs.

Greg Miller, chief executive of KiwiRail at the Otahuhu Auckland depot amongst the trains and shipping containers. NZ Herald Photo by Alex Burton 30 August 2019
Greg Miller, chief executive of KiwiRail at the Otahuhu Auckland depot amongst the trains and shipping containers. NZ Herald Photo by Alex Burton 30 August 2019

One source within Fletchers said the team that worked on the tender is “fuming” that overseas firms have been awarded the Government contract.

The source said the contract would have saved many of the 1000 local jobs slashed late last month in response to Covid-19 economic losses.

John Holland reportedly has only around 10 New Zealand-based staff. Neither John Holland nor McConnell Dowell responded to the Herald on Sunday’s requests for comment.

The contract was one of three projects under KiwiRail’s $1 billion Auckland Metro Rail Programme, which also includes the $315m third main line out of Auckland between Wiri and Quay Park, and further support for the $4.4b City Rail Link.

Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor. Photo/Greg Bowker.
Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor. Photo/Greg Bowker.

KiwiRail chief operating officer of capital projects David Gordon would not confirm the contract was already decided.

“We have not concluded negotiations with any party for this contract, but can confirm we are in discussions with a preferred supplier,” Gordon said.

“We cannot confirm who that preferred supplier is at this time, nor can we disclose information on the individual tenders.”

The KiwiRail Papakura to Pukekohe project - expected to begin at the end of 2020 - includes electrification of 19km of track currently only available to diesel trains in South Auckland. Photo / File
The KiwiRail Papakura to Pukekohe project – expected to begin at the end of 2020 – includes electrification of 19km of track currently only available to diesel trains in South Auckland. Photo / File

The Herald on Sunday was told awarding the contract to John Holland and McConnell Dowell came down to a cheaper tender.

Gordon admitted price estimates were a factor in judging the applications.

“We can confirm that the weighting applied for the contract, and disclosed to bidders at the outset of the process, was 70 per cent for non-price attributes and 30 per cent for price,” Gordon said.

“All bidders were required to demonstrate how they will support New Zealand manufacturing and industry for the materials supplied.”

Steve Killeen is chief executive of Downer New Zealand. Photo supplied to the New Zealand Herald
Steve Killeen is chief executive of Downer New Zealand. Photo supplied to the New Zealand Herald

Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Winston Peters, would not be drawn on the wisdom of the KiwiRail electrification contract going overseas, but pointed out the unsuccessful firms could still win another $315m Auckland rail project soon.

“KiwiRail cannot be influenced by ministers in their tender process, and must follow government procurement rules, which at this time do not allow them to discriminate against foreign-owned companies,” Peters said.

“However, companies that work on infrastructure projects, whether foreign-owned or locally owned, are encouraged to use New Zealand sub-contractors and workers wherever possible.”

He said Fletchers could still apply for the major Wiri to Quay Park project.

“If Fletchers claim that they are laying off 1000 staff due to missing this tender then such an excusatory claim won’t meet close scrutiny – because it is simply not true.”

The $371m project to electrify 19km of track is expected to begin at the end of the year and includes two more platforms at Pukekohe station and future proofing for extra lines.

Only diesel trains can operate between Papakura and Pukekohe, so passengers from south of Papakura must switch trains to get to and from the city.

Electrification will improve commuter capacity.

KiwiRail chairman Greg Miller (left), acting chief executive Todd Moyle, Deputy PM Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. 31 January 2018 Northern Advocate Photo by Tania Whyte
KiwiRail chairman Greg Miller (left), acting chief executive Todd Moyle, Deputy PM Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. 31 January 2018 Northern Advocate Photo by Tania Whyte

Busy work programme begins for Auckland rail – KiwiRail

Friday, 22 May, 2020

KiwiRail teams will be working hard over nights and at weekends throughout winter to build a better rail network for Auckland.

Work will begin this weekend to replace almost 12 kilometres of old rail and more than 2500 sleepers on the busy Eastern Line between Britomart and Otahuhu, says KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.

“Aucklanders are using the rail network more and more, with 3,500 commuter services and 246 freight trains in a typical week.

“That amount of rail traffic causes wear and tear on the rails over time, just as heavy traffic does to road surfaces, and in some cases we have to put speed restrictions in place. It is critical that we replace the rails so we can keep trains running efficiently and safely on the network for the thousands of rail commuters.

“Getting this work done will enable us to remove speed restrictions on the line and when finished, commuters will enjoy a quicker, smoother and quieter journey.

“Replacing the rail and sleepers can only be done when no trains are running. We have worked closely with Auckland Transport to settle on a work programme that allows us to minimise disruption for commuters while enabling us to get the work done efficiently and safely.

“Around 200 people will be working on the project, including 85 from outside Auckland who are being brought in to ensure the work is done as quickly as possible.

“Trains will be replaced by buses during evenings and at weekends when there are fewer commuters using the services, so our teams can get out to do the work. We understand this may be disruptive for those who use the trains at these times, however these closures mean we can get the work done much more quickly, so there is less overall disruption.

“We are conscious that this work may also cause some disturbance to our corridor neighbours. Our teams are focused on getting the work done as quickly and quietly as possible.

“We are working progressively across the entire network to replace the oldest and most worn sections of track, with 23km of new rail already in place across the network since March 2019. This period of work on the Eastern Line will take about eight weeks, with more work planned for late September.

“The work forms part of an ongoing project to improve the Auckland network, lay a foundation for predicted growth in passenger and freight volumes, and ensure the benefits of the City Rail Link can be delivered.”

Covid 19 coronavirus: 2500 construction workers set for work on transport projects

Auckland Transport will reopen 160 worksites and get 2500 workers back on the job next week. Photo / Michael Craig
Auckland Transport will reopen 160 worksites and get 2500 workers back on the job next week. Photo / Michael Craig
Ben Leahy

By: Ben LeahyBen Leahy is a reporter for the New Zealand HeraldBen.Leahy@nzherald.co.nz

Around 2500 construction workers are set to head back to work on Auckland Transport projects next week.

AT had earlier closed down 160 worksites across the city during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown, but they would now reopen from next Tuesday.

“These projects are worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” AT chief executive Shane Ellison said.

“Some are high profile, like the huge Eastern Busway project, the Downtown programme and Karangahape Rd enhancements, while others are smaller local projects, like road sealing, footpath works and building pedestrian crossings.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said getting the 160 sites going again would be a big boost for the local economy, but it wouldn’t be the only one.

The Government announced in January it was putting up money under the Infrastructure Upgrade to invest in a series of big projects.

Goff said new projects that were shovel-ready and able to tap into that funding would be announced next month.

Getting worksites up to new safety standards was important, he said.

“But it’s also important that we can start to regenerate economic activity and contribute to a growth of income and jobs needed to drag the city and country out of recession.”

AT’s Ellison said that while reduced traffic on city streets offered a great chance to get on with the projects, going back to work would look different for some time into the future.

“Lunch break, for instance, is going to be very different with the workers still having to maintain safe distancing and bubbles,” he said.

Each project site has developed a health and safety plan based on Ministry of Health guidance and the Covid-19 Standard for NZ Construction Operations.

These measures include physical distancing, construction bubbles, compulsory personal protective equipment, hygiene practices on-site and separating teams into zones on larger projects.

One of AT’s most high-profile projects was in the city centre, where 190 construction workers would be back on the job from Tuesday.

Programme director Eric van Essen said workers would be kept in about 30 bubbles on six sites.

“Each worker will be assigned to a bubble and, if they need to go between bubbles, they will have to wear a mask and keep 2m distance.

“We will keep a strict record of anyone entering or leaving a bubble, including anyone making site deliveries,” van Essen said.

The first activity on the site will be setting up cleaning and hygiene stations and bubble entry and exit points.

“We will do this preparation work ahead of Tuesday and then be ready when alert level 3 kicks in on Tuesday and the workers turn up for this new, more challenging way to work.”

AT said it had helped construction companies keep workers in jobs by making $18 million in advance payments to contractors on existing projects.

The cash injection came through an Advance Entitlement Payment scheme for construction contractors, with the NZ Transport Agency also offering a similar scheme to its contractors.

How AT plans to keep workers safe during alert level 3

* Inductions for new project staff and compulsory Covid-19 education and training will be part of ongoing site protocols while in level 2 and 3 scenarios

* Crews will stay in their work bubbles when travelling to and from work and while at work and going on toilet and meal breaks

* Whenever possible, individuals will maintain at least 1m distance from others.

* There will be no entering other work bubbles unless prior approval is granted.

* Masks will be worn if individuals are working within 2m of their team member or enter a different bubble.

* There will be no sharing of any food, drink or cigarettes or kitchen utensils, cups, plates and other equipment.

* There will be no sharing of plant, equipment and tools across bubbles and there will be minimal sharing within each work bubble.

* All crews are to follow hygiene guidance.

* All crews are to follow existing PPE requirements, including the wearing of gloves and safety glasses.

* No person is to come to work if they, or any members of their home bubble experience flu-like symptoms.

*Every person is to keep a record of all interactions with anyone outside of their home and work bubbles in case contact tracing is required.

COVID-19 Update: Ports of Auckland response

Update 1: 16 March 2020


With the COVID-19 situation escalating rapidly, I wanted to update you on the measures the port is taking to secure Auckland’s maritime supply lines.
As one of Auckland’s lifeline utilities we are acutely aware of our responsibility to ensure that 1.7 million Aucklanders can continue to get key essentials through the port. We’re also acutely aware that many Auckland businesses rely on getting imports in or exports out via our port to keep their businesses running.


I want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to safeguard our ability to service ships, so we can continue to serve you.


Impact so far:


To date there has been no impact on our ability to operate.
Container volumes were down 15% in February as a result of restrictions in China and we expect the same for March. April bookings look firmer now that China is starting to get back up and running, but volumes to other countries may be impacted.


General cargo volumes have not changed much but we do expect vehicle volumes to fall as a result of lower demand and disruption to the vehicle supply chain overseas.


Cruise visits are now suspended, with 30 visits cancelled.
In our view, the impact of COVID-19 could last until September or longer.


Our actions to date:


We are doing everything we can to prevent our staff from getting sick. While some of our staff can work from home, quite obviously we can’t run a port without people on site. For that reason, preventing our staff from getting sick is crucial.


We have been operating with increased border controls since January. This has included not handling ships which had called in high-risk areas and/or ships with crew who had transferred from high-risk areas in the 14 days before they were due in port.


The most recent restrictions from Government are helpful. With the closure of the cruise industry, we are now able to focus on handling freight. Shore leave for ship crews has been stopped. International transfers are still allowed, but we have put in place measures to ensure crew do not interact with our staff.


Staff interactions with ship crews is being kept to a minimum and our staff have effective personal protective equipment and training.
We are preparing to put in place land-side control measures.


We have also:
• Brought forward the provision of flu vaccinations;
• Provided clear advice to staff on how to avoid infection;
• Required staff returning from international travel to stay home for 14 days;
• Banned international business travel
• Cancelled non-essential meetings;
• Provided additional leave to ensure sick staff stay home;
• Provided Employee Assistance Programme support for staff.

Automation


Last week we successfully completed the first trial ship-loading operation. A vessel completed its regular container exchange and was then moved to the new northern berth to top-up with empty containers. This went very well and a second, larger practice is planned this week.
The recently announced travel restrictions will impact on the go-live planned for the end of the month. We were awaiting the arrival of key staff from The Netherlands who need to be on site for go live, and this is now not possible with a 14-day self-isolation period. We are currently figuring out how we can work around this restriction, possibly through remote access.
Reduced volumes through the container terminal have had some upside for automation. We have been able to accelerate staff training and we will be able to bring forward some infrastructure work that is needed for phase 2 go live. We hope that this will allow us to still hit our planned full go live date in late May, early June.
Automation could prove to be a crucial tool in our efforts to keep the port operational, especially if large numbers of our stevedoring staff get sick.


What you can do:

We need your help to keep the port open. Ensure your staff know how to protect themselves from infection. If any of your staff are sick or have travelled in the past 14 days, please ensure they do not come to the port. These simple steps will help us help you.
I hope this update is useful. I will provide further updates as the situation changes.


Kind regards
Tony Gibson
CEO
Ports of Auckland.

Ports of Auckland terminal automation

The following is an announcement from Ports of Auckland:

In preparation for phase 1 go-live, we have begun trialling small container exchanges on regular vessels using the automated systems.
The first of these took place last night (12 March) and went well. The MSC Lori completed its normal exchange at our FX/FZ berths and was then moved to Fergusson North (FN) to top off the load with empty containers.

This practice run has given our staff and external parties like truck drivers valuable experience with the new system and processes.
We are aiming to complete a second empty loading practice next week, if shipping schedules allow, and possibly a third the week after.
We will then carry out an exchange on a vessel at FN, which will mark the ‘official’ go-live for Phase 1 of automation.

Phase 1 involves turning on the automation on the northern part of our terminal, serving Fergusson North Berth (FN, the wharf with the new cranes on it). We will start phase 1 with one ship a week and gradually build up until we are delivering a full service across multiple vessels handled each week.
We will also trial moving laden imports that have come off vessels at FX/FZ through the automated terminal to be delivered via the A-Strad truck grids so we can build experience and capacity gradually over the coming weeks.

The switch to full terminal wide automation will probably not happen until late June, and only when we have complete confidence in the operation of the automated systems.

COVID-19 has caused many problems worldwide, including reducing our container volumes in February and March. However, the silver lining in this cloud is that the reduced workload has made it easier to train our stevedoring teams in the new processes for automation. We are also likely to be able to bring forward some of the remaining pavement work we need to do before going live in the southern part of the terminal in June.

It is important to understand that the changes we are making at Fergusson Container Terminal are significant in terms of how we will operate in the future. Critically, automation provides additional yard capacity, more stevedoring resource and consistent handling of trucks through the main truck grid. It does not mean more VBS slots during the daytime hours of Monday to Friday, but once fully implemented in the second half of 2020 it will deliver more consistent levels of service throughout the day and night, as well as weekends. Business processes will change, particularly when it comes to managing exceptions. This is new technology and a new way of operating. POAL is leading worldwide innovation by combining a manned (people) straddle operation with automated straddles. From the onset we have to manage the operation carefully and build up our capacity and operations in a way that ensures safety for our people and a reliable and sustainable level of service to our customers.

For any further questions related to Automation please also refer to our FAQ on our website. http://www.poal.co.nz/about-us/Pages/Automation.aspx
We will continue to provide regular updates and please continue to tune into our Website for further updates.

Ports of Auckland interim results

Monday, 2 March, 2020 – 10:48

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive, Tony Gibson has today announced the company’s half-year results.

“Our company is in the midst of delivering our 30-year master plan, a major investment programme which will increase capacity, efficiency and returns, as well as lay the foundation for us to meet our 2040 zero emission goal.

Delivering such a large investment programme whilst keeping the port working well has not been without challenges, however the last six months have seen significant progress and the next six months will see the completion of two major master plan elements: container terminal automation and the new car handling building. We have also made significant progress on a third element, channel deepening.

We largely completed infrastructure work for terminal automation this period, enabling some capacity to be returned to terminal operations. There is still some work to do in the second half of the financial year, but the worst of the disruption from this work is behind us. The 2019 import peak did not see the same level of congestion or delay that was seen in 2018.

Even so, we have felt the effect of the automation work this period. Container volumes were down two percent on the year prior as a result of the loss of two service calls, a service change and a high number of vessels arriving out of schedule.

The ability to find staff in a tight labour market has also affected volumes. At times we haven’t had the resources to handle as many containers as customers have wanted. This situation is expected to ease once automation is fully delivered.

Automation will go live in two phases: the northern part of our terminal late March and the southern area two-three months later. In early January we decided to put the go-live date for Phase 1 back a month to the end of March 2020 so that we could handle unexpectedly high January volumes.

Automation testing and preparation is going well. We are now testing the new terminal operating software using live terminal data. Staff training is ongoing and truck drivers are also being trained in the new processes.

Once automation is fully live around the middle of the year, we will gain a significant amount of terminal capacity, from around 900,000 TEU a year to around 1.7 million TEU. That is enough capacity to handle the freight needs of a million more people in Auckland and should last us until the middle of the century. If necessary, beyond this date further changes to the port layout and greater levels of automation could deliver enough capacity for an Auckland population of around 5 million people.

Work on our new car handling building has progressed very well and the building is expected to be finished on time and on budget around the middle of 2020.

It will deliver new capacity in time for the Auckland fishing fleet to be relocated to Marsden wharf for the America’s Cup and to handle an expected upturn in vehicle imports as New Zealand switches to an electric vehicle fleet.

We have started engagement for a new public space on the building’s roof which will be an exciting addition to the downtown waterfront. We aim to have the park open no later than 2023.

We have applied for consent to deepen our channel and asked for the application to be publicly notified. Notification was not required under the Auckland Unitary Plan for dredging inside the channel precinct, but we feel it is important for all our major projects to be carried out in an open and transparent manner. We also undertook a great deal of public engagement prior to lodging consent. Council has now received public submissions and we expect a consent hearing to be held later this year.

Work at our Waikato Freight Hub has progressed well, with the completion this period of the new access road and bridge which will be vested with Waikato District Council. Construction of the first stage of heavy-duty pavement for the inland port part of the development is underway.

Financial performance

As expected, revenue was flat while costs for the last six months were up, due to the investment programme, higher interest costs, and higher labour costs. As a result, net profit after tax was $17.2 million, compared to $24.4 million in the pcp.

This situation will remain much the same for the full year. The company will not pay an interim dividend and will pay a lower full-year dividend as forecast. The second half of the year will be impacted by the new coronavirus. While we expect the impact to be temporary, we can’t estimate the quantity of it yet.

Looking forward to the 2020/21 financial year, while there is still uncertainty in the global trade environment, the completion of the automation project will mean more capacity at the terminal and the ability to handle greater volumes. With new capacity in hand and a third berth in operation, we will look to win back both volumes and services over the coming year.

Our people

One of the biggest issues for our people is the impact of automation on jobs. We expected around 50-60 roles to be affected, but as we get closer to go-live we can see several factors which may lead to a lesser impact.

First, our container terminal operations are under-staffed due to a tight labour market. Second, some jobs may change but not disappear and some new roles are being created. Third, when automation goes live we will also open our third container berth and we expect volume to increase.

This is a potentially positive situation. If we win back services and increase volume, we may have a situation where no roles are lost, so once automation is fully operational, we will be targeting volume that has moved to other ports in the last few years. Given our position on Auckland’s doorstep, with a faster, lower carbon supply chain than other ports, we expect to be successful in winning back business.

Because we will not know the exact impact on jobs until after automation is fully operational, we have given a commitment that there will be no staff changes until after implementation is complete. We are ensuring staff are kept well informed.

Zero-emission by 2040

We intend to be a zero-emission port by 2040.

As a member of the Climate Leaders Coalition we have made a public commitment to set an emissions reduction target. We have also committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) because of the scheme’s ability to help with verifying that our emission reduction roadmap is consistent with an approach grounded in science. The SBTi requires emissions reductions roadmaps to be aligned to a target consistent with keeping global warming well below 2OC or 1.5OC of pre-industrial levels.

We have developed an emissions reduction roadmap in line with the ‘well below 2OC’ target and it was approved by the Board in December. In the short to medium term the roadmap involves using fuel switching (to bio diesel or renewable diesel) and the purchase of renewable energy certificates for our electricity to achieve emissions reductions. This will be followed by the adoption of zero emission technology in the mid to late 2030s. We are now submitting our roadmap to the SBTi for verification.

We are also looking to reduce emissions in the supply chain. Our great advantage as a port is that we are in the market we serve. Other ports, like Tauranga or Northport, lie a great distance away so goods imported to Auckland through these ports have a higher carbon footprint.

We have created a carbon calculator so that cargo owners can see the difference using a local port makes. For example, a 15 tonne, 20-foot container imported via Ports of Auckland and delivered to South Auckland will only emit 18 kilogrammes (kgs) of carbon. Through Tauranga it will emit 130 kgs – seven times as much – and through Northport ten times as much: 184 kgs.

At a time when climate change seems to be accelerating, every gram of carbon counts. Currently around 300,000 TEU of Auckland freight is handled through Tauranga. Auckland could potentially save over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 a year by importing through its local port. By helping customers see the benefit, we can make a significant contribution to Auckland’s effort to fight climate change.

We continue to make a positive economic and social contribution to Auckland and New Zealand. Our recent investments will ensure we can continue to play that role in the future, and we will see the results of that investment delivered from 2020 onwards.

I would like to thank our staff, management and directors for the work they have been doing to prepare our port for a new era and to keep it operating at a high standard.”

Cabinet ministers want more homework done on port relocation

Shane Jones is keen to avoid too many more lengthy reports but acknowledges it’s a once-in-a-generation project and widespread buy-in is important. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller.

Cabinet ministers have ordered more work to be done on the Northport proposal, to report back to Cabinet mid next year.

It’s officially released the report of the working group set up to consider the best configuration for the upper North Island ports, which came back with a strong recommendation to progressively move Auckland’s freight operations to Northland.

The Transport Ministry will now do more work on funding and financing options, governance and commercial considerations, land use planning and a range of other factors.

(Read the full report: PDF 1.4MB)

The Cabinet paper released alongside the report said the “key issue” for ministers was “whether the the potential gain… is sufficient to justify the significant Crown seed investment and possible need for regulatory and legislative intervention”.

Using the latter approach, it said, would result in “significant levers to use given the implications for private property rights”.

The working group made its one recommendations after considering eight scenarios – Cabinet ministers also want the ministry to also take another look at those scenarios.

(Read the full report: PDF 1.1MB)

The paper noted the “limited share of decision making rights” held by the Crown if it comes to relocating ports, and the importance of getting key stakeholders such as the Ports of Auckland and the Auckland Council on board.

“We advocate early and open engagement with the owners of the current upper North Island ports…and the Port Companies” to build consensus, the paper said.

The current owners are “cornerstone partners whose agreement and cooperation in any decision will be a requirement of making progress”.

It acknowledged engagement with those parties had been “limited to date…we anticipate aligning the partners will take some time to achieve”.

The ministry will also work with the newly formed Infrastructure Commission to help with the analysis.

Associate Transport Minister and chief cheerleader Shane Jones said he was “pleased” his Cabinet colleagues have “recognised the merit of this report and have agreed to move forward with this work”.

“I expect this analysis to consider environmental effects, including on New Zealand’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, and consideration of government infrastructure investments in roads and rail, for example, building a rail spur to Marsden Point,” he said.

“Nobody is keen on spending too much longer developing lengthy reports but this is a once-in-a-generation project and widespread buy-in is important, as is the need to make the best decisions for the long-term prosperity of our supply chain.”

It remained his view that Northport was “the most sensible relocation option” but he accepted this “is a whole-of-government decision”.

The working group has estimated the cost of the Northport proposal at around $10 billion.

Cabinet expects a report back by May next year. The report has a budget of $2 million.

Goff says compensation essential

Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff says the city’s residents will need compensation when the port is eventually relocated.

Goff said a newly released working group report on the Northport proposal suggests Auckland is left with the land rather than being bought out.

He said residents have invested over $600m in the port and should be treated as shareholders.

“They need to get some sort of compensation if that asset were to get taken off them and that’s basically what Treasury and the Ministry of Transport have pointed towards,” Goff said.

“This isn’t the wild west, you can’t go around nationalising things and saying: ‘well, just be grateful we’ve left you the land even if we’ve taken the value of the company off it’.”

Goff said he was pleased Cabinet ministers have ordered more work to be done on the Northport proposal.

“What we wanted was evidence driven, robust and independent of any vested interest group report saying how it should happen and where it should go to,” he said.

‘Pie in the sky’ – Bridges

National’s leader Simon Bridges said the $10b price would be a big hit on the government’s books.

“If they make this decision they won’t have a single bean left from their infrastructure spend up; they can only spend this borrowed money once.”

And he questioned the government’s ability to make Northport a reality.

“These guys can’t deliver, they are unrealistic, they’re pie in the sky, they come up with a lot of stuff. They’re always short on the implementation and the delivery – this thing is fraught with issues.”

Northport wants to talk to two other ports

Northport said it is ready to meet with Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga to discuss the future of freight for the North Island.

In a statement, its chairman Murray Jagger said a newly released working group report on the Northport proposal gives it confidence to talk about the potential opportunities.

Mr Jagger said the three ports need to digest the ramifications of the report and discuss the situation together.

“Northport has a very clear vision of the role it can play in the economic growth of Northland, Auckland and New Zealand,” he said.

“Significant growth is possible here. We have been clear for many years that we stand ready to assist in any way we can to support Auckland’s growth and the aspirations that Aucklanders have for their waterfront.”

Mr Jagger said he hoped to convene a meeting of the chairs of all three ports involved – Northport, Port of Tauranga and Ports of Auckland.

“We need to digest the ramifications of what we’ve seen and heard today, and flesh out a win-win-win situation not just for our three communities, but for all of New Zealand,” he said.

“We then need to seek the input of tangata whenua, our wider communities, and business and civic leadership before bringing these suggestions to government.”

Ports of Auckland has declined an interview with RNZ.

Andrew Dickens: Ports of Auckland debate misses the point

Andrew Dickens, Publish Date Wed, 27 Nov 2019, 9:49AM

Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

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.

David Farrar: My stance on Ports of Auckland

I have long been of the view that using prime waterfront land in both Auckland and Wellington as an industrial port is not in the best interests of either city.

It was logical for the ports to be there scores of years ago as back then there was no other significant use of waterfront areas. But today in modern cities waterfront areas adjacent to the CBD are the most highly sought after areas for restaurants, bars, hotels and recreation spaces.

So I support the Ports of Auckland moving from its current location.

But that doesn’t mean politicians deciding where it should move to and/or closing it down in favour of other ports.

What I would support is the Auckland Council splitting the land and operations of the Port Company in two. They take back the land and lease it to the Ports of Auckland for say a final 20 year term. Maybe 15, maybe 25. The key thing is you have a definite deadline for the Port to move.

This is a decision that Auckland Council should make. Firstly because they own Ports of Auckland and have property rights over it. They should not be legislated over by central Government. Secondly because as the governing body of Auckland they have an interest in turning the waterfront land into something more exciting.

So that is all that needs to and should happen. Then Ports of Auckland will make commercial decisions about what to do – ranging from a new operation in Firth of Thames to working with the Whangarei or Tauranga ports.

But what the Government should not do is commit the taxpayer to $10 billion spending in order to help Shane Jones win a seat by declaring it will move to Whangarei.

I am very dubious that Whangarei can go from one container ship a week to 10 ships a week. Even if it could, it is highly doubtful ship companies would choose to use it over Tauranga. And you can’t even be sensible about Whangarei unless you commit to four laning SH1 up there.

Also Politik makes the point that shipping companies want to use ports that can balance export and import loads. So the talk of Whangarei is desperate stuff to try and win Jones a seat.

If the Government decides it can dictate what happens, it could end in disaster. Our exporters and importers could face huge delays and costs.

So by all means Auckland Council should set a deadline for Ports of Auckland to move from the waterfront. There is better use for that land. But it should be the ports companies working with exporters and importers who decide on future locations, not Phil Twyford and Shane Jones.