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19th November 2018

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KiwiRail gets $40 million for new Manawatu freight hub

KiwiRail received a $40 million commitment from the government's Provincial Growth Fund. Photo / File
KiwiRail received a $40 million commitment from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Photo / File

KiwiRail is accelerating work to relocate its Palmerston North operations out of the city as part of plans to develop a regional hub to better handle freight flows throughout the lower North Island.

The company has just received a $40 million commitment from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund to help it with the planning process for the project and for land purchase.

Acting chief executive Todd Moyle said the yet-to-be determined site could potentially cover 60 hectares, some of which would be leased to freight forwarders.

It would also need to be long enough to cater for freights trains that can be a kilometre in length, and have sufficient space to support maintenance infrastructure and materials storage.

Palmerston North is KiwiRail’s key staging point for domestic, imported and exported freight in the lower North Island. Rail freight comes and goes from the north, Wellington, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay.

About 2.4 million tonnes moved through the current facility in the past year and that is expected to grow.

“This project leverages the region’s strengths and will be fully integrated into the other large investments being made in the regional transport system, including the new Manawatu Gorge road,” Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said.

“This is a future-focused investment”, with freight tonnages expected to increase by 60 percent during the next 20 years.

Moyle said KiwRail would have invested in the hub, given its strategic importance, but he said the PGF funding had enabled the company to accelerate the work.

“The PGF focus on the regions allowed us to move the freight hub right up our priority list. Without the possibility of PGF funding it would have remained a low priority.”

The main trunk rail line originally ran through Palmerston North. It was diverted around the city and the current rail yard established in 1964 on what was then the city’s north-western outskirts, but is now surrounded by urban development.

Moyle said the firm will start reviewing potential sites immediately. That includes land inside the city’s North East Industrial Zone near the existing rail line and the city’s airport. Once potential sites have been identified there will be a process to designate the land for rail use.

Moyle said purchasing land and planning work could take up to three years. Construction would take another two years.

He said the inter-modal rail and road hub needs to be near the city so it can be easily accessed by distribution companies and other businesses. It also needs to connect well with the airport, a freight ring road being planned by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the proposed replacement road for the Manawatu Gorge.

Moyle said KiwiRail would relocate from the current location over time, allowing the existing land to be used for business and housing.

Auckland’s supply chain complications

Media release – POAL and NRC 14/11/19

Auckland’s supply chain complications

National Road Carriers Association and the Ports of Auckland are combining forces to promote change in the supply chain to improve delivery times and prevent delays.

This initiative has come about because of supply chain capacity issues which were highlighted following an accident at Ports of Auckland in August. Imported freight has taken longer to deliver and exporters have encountered delays getting their goods away, leading to frustration all round.

“The supply chain is running at capacity, so unexpected problems can have a domino effect,” says David Aitken, National Road Carriers CEO.
“At its heart, the problem is Auckland’s growth. The supply chain needs to evolve and we’re all going to have to change the way we work to prevent future problems. Better planning and coordination are the key.”

“We’re letting stakeholders know what causes hold-ups and we’re working with partners to improve our end-to-end processes,” he added.
Situations contributing to delays can arise at any stage in the supply chain, sometimes occurring thousands of kilometres away from New Zealand.
“In the last 12 months over half of all container ships arrived at Auckland late (often as a result of bad weather), causing congestion,” says Craig Sain, Ports of Auckland’s General Manager Commercial Relationships. “This makes it hard for us to staff the terminal properly, causing delays.”

Labour scheduling issues at the port are made worse by a shortage of labour in Auckland, which also affects the trucking industry.

The port is currently installing an automated container handling system to address this problem, but the work required to install the system has reduced terminal capacity by about 20%, adding to congestion. This situation will remain until late 2019 when the project will be completed.
“With reduced space in the terminal and more containers coming in due to growing Auckland demand for freight, it is taking us longer to service trucks visiting the port,” says Mr Sain.

Another problem is that getting containers off the port can be delayed because there is nowhere for the containers to go. The port works 24/7 and has capacity at nights and weekends, but often distribution centres, importers warehouses and empty container depots are closed at these times.
“In the past working 9-5, Monday to Friday was fine, but now Auckland has over 1.5 million people it is no longer feasible,” says Mr Sain. “The whole industry needs to be able to work 24/7, not just the port and carriers, and this means distribution centres and importers need to be open nights and weekends to receive imports.”

The road freight transport industry is caught in the middle says David Aitken.  “Importers don’t want to pay for weekend or afterhours work but they also don’t want to pay to hold containers at the port or container depots as a result of their limited business hours.”

“We are storing containers at freight hubs longer, which adds costs for double handling, or are delivering goods later than originally expected because of holdups. We’re also facing higher costs because of Auckland’s congestion, costs which could be avoided by working 24/7,” he added.

The solution is going to come through a combination of technology, greater co-ordination and a move to 24/7 working throughout the supply chain.
As well as investing in automated container handling, Ports of Auckland is working with National Road Carriers Association to update its processes and business rules to minimise manual intervention and incentivise off-peak container movements. Last minute freight moves will become a thing of the past, with all movements having to be planned in advance.

“As a port we have a key role to play and we are trying to educate other players in the supply chain so that they understand the need for change and what they can do to make the process more efficient,” said Craig Sain. “Ultimately, these changes will benefit New Zealand through the fast, efficient and cost-effective delivery of freight.”

New Zealand needs to decarbonise transport to get on track with climate goals

The best way to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector in New Zealand is to switch to alternative fuels and decarbonise the electricity grid. Personal behaviour change will have an impact, but not enough, a new study has found.

According to the chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand Stephen Selwood, a new report from thinkstep has found that activities such as car sharing, teleworking, home deliveries and using more public transport will save around 15 per cent of carbon emission compared to the near 90 per cent reductions needed to meet climate targets.

“Many people think that enabling alternatives to the car is the best way to reduce carbon emissions in New Zealand,” Selwood said.

But thinkstep’s report calculates that a shift to electric, biofuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles has potential to reduce carbon emissions from consumption by up to 88 per cent by 2050. The Creating a positive drive: Decarbonisation of New Zealand’s transport sector by 2050 was launched on Thursday.

A shift to electric, biofuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles “has the potential to reduce carbon emissions from consumption by up to 88 per cent by 2050,” the report says.

In order to achieve this shift, renewable energy generation would have to double in capacity, and the country would have to see the conversion of five per cent of agricultural land to the production of biofuels.

Encouraging ride-sharing and the use of public transport would have benefits that are more achievable in a short space of time than a complete switch to zero emission transport, but they would only change a small proportion, up to 29 per cent, of total journeys,  the report says.

Everything helps

The government could encourage people to share rides by establishing carpool lanes, and create a pricing model to encourage electric vehicles.

Transport scenarios for New Zealand in the report for 2050 relative to 2015 (savings include domestic greenhouse gas emissions only)

“The role of government and business, as we see it, is to make these low-carbon choices easy and convenient,” says the report.

“While we still depend on fossil fuels, ride-sharing has the potential to be a quick win for New Zealand on climate change,” Dr Jeff Vickers, technical director of thinkstep and lead author of the report said.

“It reduces carbon emissions and road congestion immediately, and the carbon story gets even better as we move to electric vehicles. This is something that could happen virtually overnight, as all you need is a smartphone.”

A year ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set out a plan for New Zealand to transition its electricity grid to renewables by 2035. Between 50 to 60 per cent is already delivered by hydroelectric power. Ms Ardern’s long-term goal is for New Zealand to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Currently, according to climate action tracker website, New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution target under the Paris Agreement of a 30 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 is rated as “insufficient”. In other words, it is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C, as required, and is instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C.

Part of the reason is that transport contributed 19 per cent of all greenhouse gases emitted in New Zealand in 2015. A reduction in transport emissions by 90 per cent would reduce New Zealand’s total gross GHG emissions by 17 per cent.

But the road to decarbonising transport is harder than that. “When considering the carbon footprint of products and services that New Zealanders consume – rather than including those that are destined for offshore markets – transport’s contribution jumps to over 40 per cent,” Dr Vickers said.

The government is currently considering a Zero Carbon Bill. The target of net zero emissions by 2050 is supported by 91 per cent of respondents to a consultation for the bill, while even more, 96 per cent, support the establishment of an independent watchdog, a Climate Change Commission, like the UK’s.

The government realises that it’s cheaper to take action sooner rather than later.

Light commercial and heavy vehicles are assumed in the report to run on hydrogen in the future, yielding a 64 per cent drop in emissions using today’s electricity grid, or 91 per cent for a fully renewable grid.

In this future, biofuels would be used to power ships and planes because of their higher energy density. But biofuels have their own social and environmental impacts: air pollution, displacing crops, and a reduction of biodiversity.

See the full report here.

The China Navigation Company officially opens new China headquarters

 

 

 

The China Navigation Company (CNCo) opened its China headquarters officially in Shanghai on 05 November 2018, marking a significant return to its birthplace 147 years ago, and a significant milestone in its history.

CNCo started operations on the Yangtze River in 1872, operating a modest fleet of Mississippi-style paddle steamers. Today, CNCo is a major global player in the shipping scene, with operations spanning Australia, China, PNG, Fiji, India, New Zealand and the US. Headquartered in Singapore, CNCo owns and manages more than 130 vessels through its three core divisions – Swire Shipping, Swire Bulk and Swire Bulk Logistics.

A series of posters showcasing the growth of CNCo in China over the years.

Strong partnerships

With the rise of China as a major player in the shipbuilding industry, CNCo has built strong partnerships with key Chinese shipbuilders. Mr James Woodrow, Managing Director of CNCo, said, “Shipping markets have come to depend heavily on China and we believe the shipping industry will continue to be greatly influenced by China. While China generates demand, it also creates supply.”

“China’s growth as a major player in the shipbuilding industry has truly been remarkable. The partnerships we have established with key Chinese shipbuilders is testimony of this growth. We have since built 37 vessels in China and have eight feeder container vessels to be built at the China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s Wenchong shipyard for delivery in 2019/20. We will continue to assess modern and fuel-efficient designs to provide an industry-leading product to our customers in China far into the future,” added Mr Woodrow.

The opening ceremony was officiated by Barnaby Swire, outgoing Chairman of CNCo, incoming Chairman Samuel (Sam) Swire, James Woodrow, Managing Director of CNCo, and other members of the Board of Directors.

During the cocktail reception, guests, which included government officials, customers and employees, networked over food and drinks.

Said Randy Selvaratnam, Country Manager: “With our Shanghai office now being a full-fledged operating subsidiary as well as our other offices in Qingdao, Beijing and Guangzhou, we are even more confident of delivering innovative and sustainable shipping solutions that will meet the needs of our customers. Currently, we offer four separate services from China covering the South Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and North Australia trades.”

The Shanghai office houses the Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk divisions. The office is located in the HKRI Taikoo Hui building, a mixed-use development by Swire Properties situated within Jing’an District, a key commercial and financial sector of Shanghai.

Source: China Navigation Company (CNCo)

8 November

National MPs from all over the country have lined up at Parliament this morning to submit ‘save the highways’ petitions signed by thousands of their constituents.

National MP Amy Adams announces she will stand for National Party leader.

Selwyn MP Amy Adams said more than 1000 people signed her petition for the State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton to go ahead. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

They are concerned that major roading projects National announced are being canned by this government in favour of more public transport options or “minimal” safety upgrades of existing roads.

Examples include the Auckland east-west link, the Napier to Hastings expressway and the construction of a four-lane state highway one link between Christchurch and Ashburton.

MPs for the electorates north of Auckland hope to save the ‘four-lanes to Whangarei’ project, with Rodney MP Mark Mitchell saying the uncertainty was having a huge impact on people’s well-being.

“The cancellation of these projects not only reduces road safety, do not only take away the economic opportunities they would create, but it’s also creating a lot of stress.

“There’s a human toll to the people who actually live on these designated routes and have a lot of uncertainty created from very poor decisions, I feel, at central government level,” Mr Mitchell said.

An image of the completed East West roading project.

The proposed east-west motorway link in Auckland was scrapped by the government last year. Graphic: Supplied / NZTA

Eight petitions have been delivered, with thousands of signatures from the MPs constituents.

Amy Adams, the MP for Selwyn, said the State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton must go ahead.

“The volume of traffic on those roads is making them not only more dangerous, but more and more congested, obviously effecting productivity,” she said.

Ms Adams said she had more than a thousand people sign up in a short time.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson submitted on the Katikati to Tauranga four-lane link, which it announced in 2017 and said Labour must commit to.

They want a grade separated connection from Omokoroa onto State Highway 2 and a Katikati bypass.

Few questions were asked by the government MPs who sit on the transport committee, however National MP Paul Goldsmith asked a number of questions about the impact of the regional fuel tax on the MPs’ communities.

He said there was little thought for people outside of Auckland who would never benefit from the expensive public transport projects the government was funding in the city.

Shippers worried low pollution fuel could carry high price tag

Cleaning up smokey funnels could could land New Zealand shippers with much higher fuel bills as the Government inches towards cutting pollution levels.

The Ministry of Transport will shortly begin public consultation on whether to ratify Annex VI of an international maritime convention (MARPOL) which makes use of lower sulphur level fuel mandatory from 2020.

Shipping line Maersk​ converted to using the cleaner burning fuel in New Zealand waters in 2011, but switched back after its fuel bill soared by $1m during the one year trial, forcing the company to turn down a nomination for a Clean Air Society achievement award.

Maersk makes about 1000 New Zealand port visits a year and its oceania operations manager Stuart Jennings said the more expensive fuel cut sulphur levels in exhaust gases by more than 80 per cent, but the company regrettably suspended the pilot due to lack of support from other local industry stakeholders.

“We believe that a strong enforcement regime is crucial to ensure a level playing field for carriers as well as shippers, and to make sure that health and environmental benefits are continuously maximised.”

Maersk shipping line cut sulphur emissions at the Port of Auckland by 72 tonnes a year after it switched to a cleaner fuel, but the change proved too expensive and was abandoned after other shippers failed to follow suit.
SUPPLIED
Maersk shipping line cut sulphur emissions at the Port of Auckland by 72 tonnes a year after it switched to a cleaner fuel, but the change proved too expensive and was abandoned after other shippers failed to follow suit.

Jennings said that from 2020 all vessels in its global fleet would comply with the Annex VI requirement to reduce maximum sulphur levels from 3.5  per cent to 0.5 per cent, regardless of whether New Zealand had ratified the clause.

Atmospheric scientist Jennifer Barclay​ nominated Maersk for the clean air award and said the company’s switch to cleaner burning diesel reduced the amount of sulphur released into Auckland skies by 72 tonnes a year.

It was disappointing other shippers had not followed suit, but she understood Maersk’s reversal. “It’s not their fault, central government needs to pull finger and do something.”

Ministry of Transport international connections manager Tom Forster said the Resource Management Act allowed for discharges into air for normal ship operations, and New Zealand had not previously signed up to Annex VI “because our weather conditions and comparatively small ship numbers meant maritime air pollution was not seen as a significant issue.”

He said domestic legislation would need to be changed if ratification was agreed on once consultation was completed.

Members of the NZ Shipping Federation, including the InterIslander, are anxious to know where they stand over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Members of the NZ Shipping Federation, including the InterIslander, are anxious to know where they stand over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.

NZ Shipping Federation executive director Annabel Young said she expected New Zealand to ratify the clean fuel clause by 2023, but 98 per cent of shipping capacity worldwide had already done so. “We are the outlier.”

Her members, who include the InterIslander, Strait Shipping and Coastal Bulk Shipping, were anxious to know where they stood over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.

Diesel was the only fuel in New Zealand that met the specified sulphur content, but cost up to 50 per cent more than what many vessels currently used, and it was unclear whether the Marsden Point refinery would retool to produce low sulphur marine fuel, said Young.

A Refining New Zealand spokesman said they were still investigating options for the refinery to make 0.5% sulphur fuel oil.

“That process will give a good indication of the production costs involved, and quantities we can make on behalf of our oil company customers.”

Young said another complication was that a recent amendment to Annex VI prevented ships entering the ports of more than 80 signatory-countries from carrying dirtier-burning heavy fuels.

That meant New Zealand coastal ships, such as the interisland ferries, would have to switch fuel before entering dry docks in Australia or Singapore, and it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars

“Switching fuels takes months, it’s not something you do lightly …going to dry dock will be a very expensive transition.”

Young said that methanol was a clean fuel option that more shippers were seriously considering, but there were questions about the security of supply once the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill passed.

However, a Methanex New Zealand representative said that would not be an issue. “If the shipping industry used methanol we’d be guaranteeing supply.”

Stuff

ASB makes New Zealand exporting history

Thursday 1 November 2018

ASB makes New Zealand exporting history with first bank-led blockchain trade

ASB in partnership with VerifyUnion has successfully launched this country’s first bank blockchain single trade window. It comes after the platform was used by Kiwi meat exporter Greenlea Premier Meats to make a trade with a large Korean importer. The platform was used in parallel to the traditional trade process.

All the relevant documents relating to the trade were able to be uploaded, shared and updated within the secure platform which will save time for all those involved in the supply chain – from ASB, Greenlea, the shipping company, to Maritime New Zealand and other government agencies.

ASB’s GM Global Transaction Banking Greg Beehre says “This is a significant new chapter in the history of New Zealand sharing our products with the rest of the world. We’re proud to be one step ahead progressing New Zealand’s single trade window and excited to be using blockchain technology to digitise and improve the trade process for our customers.”

Having a secure blockchain platform to conduct business not only reduces the time New Zealand exporters will need to spend on documentation throughout the trade process, as Jack Vollebregt CFO of Greenlea explains, it also reduces the risks of fraud and cyber security threats.

“We’re exporting to 40 different countries and being able to use the ASB blockchain platform removes the weak spots and ensures the integrity of the data. We also especially like the instant translation capability which will limit any misunderstandings or human error that can come from dealing with businesses based in different countries and time zones,” Vollebregt says.

“Plus, it offers traceability and is scalable across the whole supply chain ecosystem giving all partners in the process a competitive advantage. That was really important to us here at ASB,” Beehre says.

Witnessing the milestone trade was VerifyUnion who designed the platform for ASB.

“New Zealand is an export led economy. It was really important to us to be able to use emerging technologies to help ASB solve a real problem facing its exporting customers. At the documentation layer, the blockchain-enabled supply chain allows partners to access key documents, such as a bill of lading, certificates of origin and other documents required by customs, which streamline these processes. The application of blockchain technology in trade creates the potential for multi-beneficial productivity gains to the supply-chain,” AJ Smith, VerifyUnion CEO says.

Also involved in the test is insurer Vero, whose marine insurance division is one of the leading export insurers in New Zealand, and Prodoc, New Zealand’s leading export documentation processing company.

“New Zealand exporters are some distance from most of their overseas markets, and having secure verified insurance certificates is critical to protecting local businesses from the risk of transit incidents,” Allen Chong, Executive Manager, Marine at Vero says. “Marine insurance is an old and very traditional form of insurance, but blockchain has a lot of potential to provide an efficient and reliable successor to previous paper-based systems. It’s exciting to be moving marine insurance into the modern world of automation.”

Prodoc CEO Steve Cox says, “Using couriers and email for the ‘last mile’ of documentation has always been a source of cost and possible fraud. By reducing the cost and bringing in blockchain to verify the authenticity of documentation, the trade can be facilitated faster and the trust relationship between the exporter and their customer can be improved.”

In its quest to continue to innovate, ASB says the next stage is doing a trade via airfreight. Participants will be announced in coming weeks.

Pain at the petrol pump: tradies, transport businesses and average people hurting

Small business owners and average income earners in Tauranga are feeling the pain at the petrol pump as fluctuating fuel prices – which recently hit record highs – strain budgets.

Tauranga transport companies and tradies have reported big hits to their bottom lines, while a budget adviser says average people are raiding grocery budgets to pay for petrol.

“It hurts,” said courier company owner Ian McGonigal, who drives from Tauranga to Gisborne and back each day, on rising diesel prices.

“It used to cost me $50 to $55 a day 12 months ago, and now it would cost me $80.

“I have had to increase prices to compensate.

“I think the oil companies are ripping us off.”

AD Electrical owner Andre Buitendag said increases were cutting into profits.

“Some of it can go back to customers but I have prearranged contracts with set mileage and I have to absorb the cost.”

One four-year contract had mileage at $1 for diesel, which now cost $1.50.

Two Tauranga moving company owners said they had put hourly rates up – $5 and $10 an hour – due to increased diesel prices and a road user charges.

Mover Allan Crossley said he was dialling down petrol consumption at home, too.

He was thinking about trading in his Ford Falcon for a hybrid “just to save some fuel” and seeing his daughter in Hamilton less.

He said the Government was “not helping the situation” by increasing fuel taxes.

Motorist Paul Anderson said prices would have dropped if Kiwis had not just become used to paying $2 a litre.

”We think we are getting a deal but we’re still getting ripped off.”

Kirsty Morrison of One21 Recruitment said she advised job seekers looking at a role across town to consider petrol prices, transport and traffic before taking it.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said the increases were especially hard on average workers who were not on bus routes and could not car pool.

“Food would be the initial hit of accessible money as it is usually what is left, however, this is really stretching an already stretched budget.”

The Ministry of Social Development said rising living costs were reflected in a rise in demand for emergency grants.

Anyone struggling to afford to get to work should get in touch.

Minister for Transport Phil Twyford said fluctuations in the global crude oil price had a far bigger influence on New Zealand petrol prices than minor excise increases.

The international price of crude oil has risen by more than 40 per cent this year, while 2018 excise increases will cost the average household 83 cents a week – 40c for those on the lowest incomes.

The funding would allow $5 billion more in transport investment over the next decade to “get our cities moving, create new economic opportunities in our regions, and save lives on our roads”.

The Government wanted to see a competitive market for petrol so Kiwis were not paying more than they had to, he said.

”We are concerned that the margins of fuel companies have increased over the last three weeks to record levels. We’ve passed a law that will allow the Commerce Commission to compel petrol companies to provide information on pricing.”

Representatives of BP, Z, Mobil and Gull all said their fuel was priced competitively and increases were largely due to factors outside their control, particularly the price of crude oil and the New Zealand exchange rate.

Over the last few weeks, crude oil prices had dropped and those savings had been passed on to customers at the pump, they said.

The general manager of Gull NZ, Dave Bodger, was scathing of Twyford’s claim of increased margins, saying the minister did not have reliable data on which to make that claim.

“I fear the minister is confused. Over the last three weeks, our margins haven’t gone up.”

He welcomed the Commerce Commission inquiry, provided it was even-handed and surveyed the industry as a whole.

He described government fuel taxes as “the poisoned cherry” on the cake.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams said politicians cried crocodile tears about pain at the pump when most of it was caused by tax hikes.

”What makes petrol taxes particularly loathsome is they are regressive – disproportionately hitting the poor and those who can least afford it.

“While alternative transport options might apply in our large cities, for much of regional New Zealand there is no choice.”

– Additional reporting Samantha Motion

AA Petrol watch on fuel prices

– In the last fortnight prices for 91 dropped from the near record highs of $2.49 per litre
– Whether prices would continue to fall “remains to be seen”
– Government taxes accounted for about 43 per cent of the retail price or $1.07 cents a litre
– Fuel prices influenced by exchange rates and the cost to buy and import the product.

National fuel prices as at October 25:
91 Octane – 238.9
95 Octane – 247.9
Diesel – 177.9

National fuel prices as at September 24:
91 Octane – 240.9
95 Octane – 249.9
Diesel – 180.9

– Source: AA Petrol Watch

Former PM Helen Clark slams proposal for Auckland port carpark

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has waded into the Ports of Auckland waterfront debate. Photo / Greg Bowker
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Photo / Greg Bowker NZ Herald

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has weighed into another high-profile planning proposal for Auckland, describing a bid for a car park on Bledisloe Wharf as “mind boggling” in its lack of vision.

Clark took to Twitter last night to let her 185,000 followers know of her distaste for a five storey car park scheduled to be erected by the Ports of Auckland (POAL) in 2019.

“What city with a vision for its waterfront would want a car park occupying prime land on it! Whatever one thinks of the stadium proposal, the Ports of #Auckland proposal for constructing a permanent car park on Bledisloe Wharf is mind boggling. #AucklandCanDoBetter @simonbwilson” Clark wrote at 11.14pm yesterday.

Artist impression of a car park building proposed for Bledisloe Wharf on the Auckland Waterfront. Photo / SuppliedArtist impression of a car park building proposed for Bledisloe Wharf on the Auckland Waterfront. Photo / Supplied

The tweet was in response to an article by Herald journalist Simon Wilson that revealed the 17 metre “car-handling” facility was included in POAL’s “30-year masterplan”, and would essentially scrap any possible Auckland harbour-side stadium.

The car-park, which will extend about a fifth the length of Bledisloe Wharf and just over a third of its width, will also have a hotel built between it and Quay St if Auckland Council approves it in the coming months.

The post received 42 retweets and over 200 likes in the 12 hours since it was written, with Clark providing the additional comment that Auckland Council “is disempowered by current legislation. Maybe this is the opportunity to change that!”

It is not the first time in 2018 Clark has had her say on big Auckland issues, after she fought against plans to hold a Waitangi Day appeal concert at Eden Park.

A Mount Eden resident, Clark said in July this year she was relieved the “Million Babies” Waitangi Day LifePod Appeal concert was rejected by the Eden Park Trust.

The former Labour PM had argued the concert would be a “Torjan Horse” to provide a precedent for future music concerts at the suburban Auckland stadium.

Clark’s three-term stint as New Zealand Prime Minister ended in 2008, but she has not shied away from public life since – running an unsuccessful campaign to be the first female UN Secretary General in 2016.

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