Phil Goff

Mayor for a better Auckland

Vote Phil Goff for Mayor for a better Auckland – learn more about mayoralty candidate Phil Goff’s vision for an Auckland City where enterprise thrives.  

Protecting Our Environment

We have a beautiful natural environment, framed by our spectacular coastline, harbours, our maunga, islands and regional parks.  Those are assets that must be sustained and protected for generations to come.

We need to make Auckland a place where our urban environment and lifestyle matches the quality of our natural environment. Good urban design and protecting our green open spaces is vital as the city intensifies.

Protecting our marine environment

Our harbours, the Gulf and more than a thousand beaches are the jewels in the crown of Auckland's environment.  One sixth of Auckland households own a boat.  As Aucklanders, part of our birthright has been access to clean water, relatively uncrowded beaches, and the chance to fish or gather shellfish.  However, these are under threat.

The last two State of the Hauraki Gulf reports point to a deteriorating environment.  Snapper stocks have declined to 19 percent, well below the 40 percent sustainability level. Sedimentation is damaging water quality and habitat in three quarters of the sites being monitored around the Gulf.

Government plans to make the inner Gulf a recreational fishing park will not make a sufficient difference.  We need to end commercial trawling in the fish breeding areas, create more marine protected areas and establish better sediment and pollution control.

As Mayor, I will give clear and strong backing to the Sea Change agenda and to Auckland Council efforts to restore the Hauraki Gulf.

I support expanding the Marine Protected Areas which currently protect only 0.03 percent of the Gulf area.  More protected areas are needed to help restore fish stocks.

Significant damage is being done by bottom trawling and Danish seine trawling.  Auckland Council will work with central government and its agencies on initiatives to protect spawning grounds and eliminate damaging commercial fishing practices.

Riparian planting to stop sedimentation going into the Gulf and our harbours will be a key component of my campaign to plan a million trees in three years.

Auckland's State of the Environment Report late last year warned that nearly a third of the City's streams were of poor standard and 28 percent of swimming spots, at times, presented moderate to high risk of swimmers becoming sick.

Storm water infiltration of the wastewater system is a major cause of overflow and beach contamination.  Construction of a new Central Interceptor and other capital works are needed as soon as possible to significantly reduce this problem.

Aquaculture is an important industry but must be located in areas where the water quality is high and it does not interfere with other users of the space.  The part of the Hauraki Gulf from the North Shore to Mangawhai Spit should be retained for other uses.

Auckland's Port will not be allowed to encroach into the Waitemata Harbour with further reclamation.

Reducing Waste

Increased recycling and the reduction of waste going to landfills is already underway.  Auckland needs new initiatives to achieve its aspirational goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040, set out in Auckland Council's Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

Aucklanders use hundreds of millions of plastic bags each year.  They are used on average for 12 minutes before they enter the waste stream as non-biodegradable rubbish.

Last year the United Kingdom introduced an equivalent 10 cents charge on all plastic bags used in supermarkets (with exceptions for some goods such as meat, fish and vegetables).  The result was an 85 percent reduction in plastic bag use.  This replicated in cities around the world which have taken this action.  We need to do the same.

Charging for plastic bags cannot be introduced through bylaws. As Mayor I will with MPs to promote change through a Local Bill passed through Parliament.

Pollution from plastics is a serious problem worldwide with the eight million tonnes of plastics going into the world's oceans each year.  That damages bird and fish life and the marine environment. Plastic is found in the digestive systems of 90 percent of the world's seabirds.  Auckland and New Zealand must play our role to reduce the amount of this going into the waste stream.

We will work with the Government to make the Waste Minimisation legislation more effective in relation to disposal of products such as tyres, chemicals, paint and electronic goods.

We will work to reduce methane producing organic waste from being dumped in landfills.

A Million Trees Programme

I have announced an urban forestation programme for Auckland which aims to plant a million, predominantly native, trees and shrubs across the region over three years.  The goal is to green our city, offset carbon emissions, protect our water quality by planting along rivers and coastlines and improve our living environment.

Local boards, schools, service and social sector groups, private entities, farmers, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Association and developers are just some of the organisations which already plant trees and shrubs around the region.  The Council’s role will be to coordinate and help provide an overall strategy around which tree species are planted and where.

As Mayor, I will ensure Council works alongside all of these groups to facilitate the planting of a million trees in three years.

Auckland Council will budget $1 million each year to fund its contribution to the Million Trees Programme. The fund will be used to provide practical support and coordination and to expand existing planting programmes. We will off-set costs by partnering with government agencies, NGOs, private sector sponsors, iwi and other groups.  

Addressing global warming

Climate change poses a major threat to the world's and New Zealand's environment.  We urgently need to reduce carbon emissions and create carbon sinks to meet the obligations we have taken on internationally under the Paris Agreement.  With more than one-third of our country's population and the majority of its growth, Auckland has to play its part in tackling the problem.

Planting trees as carbon sinks under the Million Trees programme will help offset carbon emissions.

Reducing carbon emissions from transport is a key priority.  We can do that by increasing public transport use with non-polluting electric trains and light rail, and building walk and cycle ways.  We need to progressively convert petrol and diesel cars and buses to electric vehicles.

The Council should both encourage conversion of corporate fleets and reduce and convert over time its own fleet of 800 cars.  To set an example, the Mayor's car should be electric.

Council will work with Auckland Transport to ensure obstacles to installation of EV charging systems and stations are removed and explore other ways to incentivise electric car use.

Green public spaces and reserves

As Auckland grows by up to a million more residents over the next 30 years, and housing becomes more intensified, it is critical that the city sustains and expands its green public open spaces and reserves.

Access to and viewshafts of significant environmental features of the city must be protected.  This applies particularly to our volcanic cones maunga which are a key part of the city's identity.  Crater Hill should not be built upon. 

We should preserve and protect sensitive coast and estuarine areas, and not encroach on fertile agricultural areas such as Pukekohe.

Sorting Our Transport

Traffic congestion in Auckland is getting worse.  With 800 new cars registered in Auckland each week, we are headed toward gridlock.

Every year Auckland commuters spend 20 working days stuck in traffic.  On top of the huge frustration that causes, Auckland’s traffic congestion is estimated to cost billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and other costs. 

With population growth expected to be close to an additional one million residents over the next 30 years, improved public transport options providing efficient alternatives are needed to stop Auckland grinding to a halt. 

Given the population growth, trying to build our way out of congestion with roads alone will not work. It’s important that transport networks are available to serve new housing developments across the region in the next decade.  As intensification occurs, it needs to be focused on arterial routes, transport hubs and town centres with multiple transport options.

A transport system that works

While some roading networks need to be completed and significant road maintenance costs will be ongoing, reducing congestion on our roads will rely on the provision of a coherent and efficient public transport system. Initiatives such as the northern busway and the upgraded rail system have achieved outcomes exceeding expectations.  The key components Council will focus on are:

Improved commuter rail system

Completion of the project is essential and will allow the doubling of heavy rail capacity and improvements in rail travel times.  It will significantly benefit commuters from the south and west of Auckland and has the major advantage of taking vehicles off the road.

Improving park and ride facilities in the outer parts of the network and regular feeder transport to rail and buses are vital to maximise the use of rail and will be a priority.

Electric trains, powered by battery, to Pukekohe will be a priority to eliminate transfer at Papakura. Extending battery electric trains to Huapai will be investigated.

Busways

A separated busway has been very effective in persuading nearly half of North Shore commuters to the CBD to abandon use of their cars and travel by bus.  This saves peak hour travel times and avoids parking fees and difficulties.  The northern busway extension further northwards will be a priority.  The north-west and south-east are the most car dependent districts of Auckland and deserve to have the choice to use high quality transport systems. A grade separated busway should now be added to the North-Western Motorway.

The AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project from Panmure to Pakuranga needs to be undertaken as early as possible, and extended to Botany, and ultimately East Tamaki and Manukau.

Light Rail

With bus congestion already occurring in areas on the isthmus such as Symonds Street (more than 140 buses per hour in peak periods) and double decker buses likely to be only an interim solution, Auckland needs to bring forward construction of a light rail system, yet presently it is not included in the 10 year plan but it should be. Busways should be convertible to light rail as demand grows over time.

Light rail can carry up to 450 passengers at a time, and is a quick, efficient way of moving people around the city.  It is a more sustainable transport mode which minimises emissions and pollution.  Its success can be witnessed in countless cities around the world. 

Auckland Council must prioritise the development and signing off of a business case for an isthmus light rail system so that the resulting programme can be included in the 2018 LTP. 

An initial light rail system should be introduced from the Wynyard Quarter and up Queen Street, Symonds Street and Dominion Road.  Further expansion of light rail to East Tāmaki, Botany, Pakuranga and Panmure (down what will initially be a busway), across the harbour to the Shore and following the old tram routes on the isthmus can all be considered for future development as demand grows and resources allow.

Should evidence demonstrate that it is a more cost-effective alternative to heavy rail to the airport, light rail could provide the rapid transit link from the city centre to the airport, to meet the needs of currently over 3 million tourists a year (which is growing rapidly), and growing employment around the airport. It would also provide better access to people in Favona and Mangere Bridge to employment opportunities at the airport and city centre.  Any planning of the next harbour crossing needs to include consideration of a light rail option.

Walkways and Cycleways

Completion of a walk and cycleway network around Auckland will add another alternative for people to move around the city, for work, recreation or tourism, without using cars.

From over 70 percent of secondary students travelling by bike to school in the 1960s, the figure for 2015 for students cycling to school has fallen to 3 percent. 

During school holidays, morning peak hour traffic on the road falls by around 10 percent easing congestion significantly. Providing safe ways for school students to cycle to school will help ease traffic pressure as well as provide healthy exercise. We will encourage government to roll over the current urban cycleway fund.

Cycle hire facilities such as those operating in New York, Paris and London will be piloted through private sector operators and, if successful, will be expanded.

Car Sharing

Having car share opportunities (such as City Hop where cars can be hired by the hour) will encourage people to access cars when necessary without bringing their own into the city.  Car sharing through Uber (and through the introduction of autonomous cars when the technology allows that) will provide further alternatives to the wastefulness of most cars having only one occupant during peak hour traffic.

Car sharing facilities in intensive housing developments and apartments will, in due course, become an alternative to families needing to own second cars and having to provide expensive parking spaces. 

Electric Vehicles

The Council will work with the Government and the private sector to speed up the replacement of petrol and diesel vehicles with new electric cars.  Conversion of company fleets is an effective way of doing this. We will also work with bus operators to progressively convert the bus fleet to electric to reduce pollution.

The Council fleet of some 800 vehicles should be reduced in number and progressively be replaced with electric cars.

The Mayor will lead by example by replacing the current Mayoral car with an electric one.  The Council will work to ensure that vehicle charging facilities are available around the city and consider other options to incentivise e-car use.

Ferries

Ferries offer attractive public transport options for Auckland’s coastal areas. We will look at ways to improve frequencies and improve integration with other parts of the public transport system, and expanded services to coastal suburbs not currently serviced.

We need to look at integrating Auckland’s ferries into the public transport operating model.  This will help to ensure competition where appropriate and bring ferry service contracts within the contracting model which applies elsewhere in Auckland’s public transport network.

Alternative Funding

The transport infrastructure we need to develop will be an asset for generations to come and the costs can properly be spread over a long period.  With capital amounting to billions of dollars needed to build transport networks, rates are not an adequate or appropriate way to fund transport development.  Nor is conventional borrowing to meet the costs feasible given the constraints placed on Council’s ability to borrow.

The key to being able to deliver more infrastructure is revenue – having sufficient revenue to, firstly, provide the headspace to be able to raise new debt and, secondly, to service that debt. Alternative funding sources are, therefore, the first step to solving the infrastructure challenges facing Auckland.

We need to negotiate with central Government an expanded version of its Housing Infrastructure Fund. An Infrastructure Bond Scheme, preferably raised by central Government, would allow access to capital at the lowest interest rate.  The cost of servicing and repaying the capital cost of bonds would be met by both central Government and Auckland. 

We will also examine provision of public/private partnerships to fund and manage the operation of the infrastructure where it makes sense to do so.  PPPs and BOTs (Build-Operate-Transfer) enable new infrastructure to be built earlier than it would otherwise be with the assets transferring into public ownership in the longer term.  While the overall financing costs can be higher than simply raising new debt, this can be offset by the economic impact from faster delivery of new infrastructure.

As central Government gets most of the revenue benefit from population growth, from GST and income tax, a fair share of that revenue should be returned to the local government coping with the costs incurred by growth.  While central government faces new costs too (ie. building new schools, expanded health services), a new approach to revenue sharing would recognise the disproportionately high costs being imposed on Auckland by its disproportionately high population growth.  Over the next 30 years, 50-60 percent of New Zealand’s growth is expected to occur in Auckland.

Earlier this year, Treasury advised the government that Auckland needs new alternatives to rates to fund transport. Ministers confirmed that is something the government will consider implementing. Auckland’s share of the cost of debt servicing should come from a form of road charging.  This is more equitable than rates as costs fall on those who use the new infrastructure.  Road charging also acts to influence commuter behaviour.

Initially this could be achieved by a regional petrol tax which is quick to put in place and relatively cheap to administer.  Later, a limited GPS based, congestion-related road pricing, such as Singapore is soon to implement, could replace a petrol tax. 

As Auckland mayor, I will continue to push for central government to, firstly, make appropriate contributions to the costs of new infrastructure and, secondly, give Auckland the tools so that we can pay our share without ratepayers facing huge rate rises.

On current investment levels, Auckland’s roads will become increasingly congested and gridlocked. That will cost our city and the Government billions of dollars in lost productivity and other costs for which we get nothing back – other than increasing frustration. It is not an alternative that central or local government can contemplate.

Restoring Housing Affordability

The Kiwi dream of owning our home is slipping out of the reach of more and more Aucklanders and rents are becoming less affordable.  Auckland is now one of the world’s least affordable cities. 

Housing affordability affects us, our children and grandchildren.  Increasing numbers of people are being locked out of the Auckland housing market.  As well as affecting families and communities, it impacts on the availability of the workforce Auckland businesses rely on.

Auckland’s housing crisis means different things for different people. For first-home buyers, it is the huge obstacle to purchasing as house prices continue to rise by $2000 to $3000 a week. For renters, it means rents increasing by six times the overall rate of inflation, creating affordability problems and undermining their ability to save for a home of their own. For the most disadvantaged it means homelessness – living in a garage, sharing a house with other families or sleeping in a car.

The problems are firstly on the supply side.  Auckland is not building enough new homes. With population growing by 750,000 over the next 25 years, we need around 17,000 new houses a year. Availability of land ready for development is crucial.  Land now makes up nearly 60 percent of the cost of a home in Auckland.  Restrictions on building up and out have contributed to the problem.

There are also ‘demand-side’ reasons for a housing crisis. There are record numbers of people coming to the city, with Auckland growing by 825 people a week, two thirds of whom are new migrants.  Cyclically low interest rates are currently encouraging people to borrow more and more. Nearly half of all houses in Auckland are being purchased by property investors, foreign and local, some of whom are flipping properties quickly to make speculative profits fuelling house price inflation and making the crisis worse.

A shock to the international economic system, a sharp rise in interest rates or an economic downturn could result in the housing bubble bursting. A steep fall negating the meteoric rise in housing prices would leave relatively recent home buyers heavily exposed with negative equity and severely damage the wider economy.

The solutions are multifaceted, and involves central government, the Auckland Council, the private sector and developers, iwi and NGOs.  They involve land availability, infrastructure and finance, migration flows, macroeconomic settings, and regulatory issues. 

There are ways to bring supply and demand in housing back into balance and Auckland’s Mayor should be strongly advocating for those solutions and leading changes at Council. 

As Mayor I will:

  • Support the thrust of the Unitary Plan by allowing the city to move up and out so that land supply constraints do not contribute to pushing up land and housing prices. The answer is not endless sprawl, nor is it the destruction of heritage housing and leafy suburbs.  We need more intensive housing with high-rise in the city centre and key city hubs, contributing to Auckland’s vibrancy, colour and excitement.  Higher density housing should be developed along arterial transport hubs and routes.
  • Set clear preconditions for going higher.  They are good urban design, ample public and green open space and supporting transport infrastructure.  Well-designed low rise apartments can produce a better aesthetic effect than packing in two storey houses side by side.
  • Institute an immediate review to determine how the consenting process can be faster, cheaper and in line with best practice. Resource and building consents need to be timely and cost effective.  Unnecessary delays in Council consents slow housing construction and cost the consumer more. We need best practice in this area.
  • Work with central government on tools to help local government meet the high costs of supplying infrastructure for new development. Infrastructure bonds are an option.  The Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund is a step in the right direction but too limited to have a meaningful impact. It needs to be significantly expanded.
  • Develop disincentives to land-banking.  Put time limits – a ‘use it or lose it’ clause - on approvals and consents.
  • Work with central government, developers, landowners, iwi and community housing agencies to develop solutions that give the building industry confidence and certainty to gear up for construction.
  • Put Auckland Council support behind more affordable housing schemes, such as at Waimahia.
  • Ensure Auckland Council will play a coordinating role, working with Government, NGOs and the private sector, to seek to eliminate chronic homelessness. The policy will be based on the principle of housing first. This first places a homeless person in housing and then provides wrap around services to address the cause of their homelessness. This is a proven successful model internationally and in New Zealand. It will reduce and seek to eliminate the growing number of homeless people sleeping rough in the CBD and around Auckland.

As Mayor, I will advocate for policy changes at central government which promote the interests of home buyers:

  • Property speculation is a problem when supply and demand of housing are not in balance and housing price rises are extreme. Balancing supply and demand for housing is the best way to stop speculation. Interim measures are however needed to reduce rampant speculation. This could include further increasing deposits required by investors to borrow from the banks, extending the bright line test requiring tax to be paid on capital gains from two years to five years and eliminating negative gearing.
  • Require foreign investors to build new units rather than buying existing ones.
  • Ease record migration levels to allow infrastructure development to catch up with growth in population. This can be achieved by slowing the issuing of temporary work visas currently running at over 209,000 a year or by lifting the threshold for permanent residency. Immigration is good for New Zealand – it brings skills and energy – but it needs to be at a rate transport and housing infrastructure can cope with.
  • Work with Government to address constraints in the supply of material and skills and explore alternative building methods to ensure that the numbers of houses and apartments needed can be built.
  • Government has had a traditional role in kick-starting the private sector by building affordable homes and providing social houses for those who need them. As part of the Mayor’s role to advocate on behalf of the city, I will highlight its needs and press for government to be an active participant in solving the crisis by expanding both affordable and social housing.

Housing provision is in crisis but there are solutions. We need Auckland Council and central government not to indulge in a blame game but to work together to put those solutions in place.  Urgent and bold action is needed to stop the worsening housing crisis and restore the affordability and availability of housing.

Million Trees Programme

Auckland was once covered in a rich and diverse rainforest. Kauri, rimu, totara and kahikatea towered over lower canopies and forest, and teemed with native birds.

Over generations, clearance of bush for farmland and urbanisation has resulted in only small fragments of bush remaining outside the conservation areas of the Waitakere and the Hunua Ranges reserves. It is now time to restore some of the tree cover and take steps to green our city.

Planting trees will make our city a more beautiful place to live. It also enables us to address major environmental problems such as water and air quality. Trees reduce runoff and siltation and improve water quality in the Hauraki Gulf, the Kaipara and Manukau Harbours, and our rivers and streams. They provide a carbon sink to off-set emissions and slow global warming.

My commitment as Mayor is an urban forestation programme for Auckland which aims to plant a million, predominantly native, trees and shrubs across the region in the next term of Council.

Local boards, schools, service and social sector groups, private entities, farmers, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Association and developers are just some of the organisations that already plant trees and shrubs around the region.  However, I believe there is a role for Council to assist to improve coordination between these groups and help to provide an overall strategy around what tree species are planted and where.

As Mayor, I will ensure Council works alongside all of these groups to facilitate the planting of an additional one million trees.

Auckland Council will budget $1 million each year to fund its contribution to the Million Trees Programme. The fund will be used to provide practical support and coordination to expand existing planting programmes. Costs will be off-set by partnering with NGOs, businesses and iwi.

We will also work with established groups like Te Whangai to combine tree propagation and planting with social programmes to enhance job seeker experience and skills. The fund will not cover administration costs which will be funded from existing resources. Progress reports will be provided half yearly.

Council will work with Local Boards and encourage them to lead tree plantings in their communities.  The Million Trees Programme will support other community-led developments that are already underway. By providing Council support and coordination, we can ensure more trees and shrubs are planted where communities most want them and promote best practice in our efforts to green the city.

New Zealand urgently needs to plant extensive areas of trees to help combat climate change and keep our country on course to meet the requirements set out at the Paris Conference on Climate Change. With more than a third of the country’s population, Auckland needs to do its fair share towards combating climate change.

Planting trees will not only help combat our carbon emissions but also improve the health of our harbours and rivers by preventing erosion, run­off and reducing siltation. Planting to protect riparian and coastal areas will be a priority. Increasing our green areas will also enhance biodiversity and bring back native bird populations.

Economically, afforestation supports our drive to become “clean and green”. It also helps New Zealand to reduce costs such as the hundreds of millions of dollars it will otherwise need to purchase carbon off-sets to fulfil the Paris agreement.  The programme will help beautify our city and region with plantings in parks and reserves, school grounds, streets and along motorways.

The Million Trees Programme will enhance our already great natural environment and the quality of life we enjoy from living in Auckland.

Fiscal - Doing more with less

The first responsibility of the Mayor is to ensure that the City is managed in a fiscally responsible way.  It must work within its budget, keep rates low and affordable, and get the best value for money for each dollar it receives from ratepayer and other sources.

One of the principal goals of establishing a super city for Auckland was to end duplication, waste and inefficiency from having eight Councils manage what was effectively one city.  Six years on, the level of trust and confidence in Council has fallen to a very low level.  The perception of Council is of a body that has not captured the efficiencies it was expected to achieve.  Council is regarded as an organisation that needs to cut fat from its system, become more responsive to the needs of its residents and ratepayers, and to be more transparent in how it spends its money.

Major changes are needed in how Council operates in order to restore the confidence of its ratepayers and persuade the Government, from which it needs further funding, that it is an efficient and high performing organisation.  Things need to be done differently and there needs to be a change in Council culture.

Rates

  • Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 percent per annum or less, if current Council fiscal projections are correct and the CPI stays low.
  • Costs of expensive infrastructure should not in the main be funded from rates.
  • More than 50 percent of New Zealand’s growth is currently in Auckland and Auckland has to meet the costs of providing the infrastructure to cope with that growth. Yet the extra GST and income tax arising from the growth goes to central government. Auckland needs a fair share of the additional revenue to offset the costs of meeting growth.
  • The flat levy on all rates to pay for a shortfall in transport funding should be removed and replaced by a road charge so that those who benefit from use of the roads contribute to the costs of reducing congestion. This may initially be in the form of a petrol tax, later replaced by a congestion charge or toll, to help service debt raised for infrastructure and to influence commuter behaviour.
  • To keep rates low and affordable Council needs to do more with less.  That means cutting fat, eliminating waste and duplication, and finding efficiencies.

Operating Expenditure

  • As part of doing more with less, Council will be required to examine the cost effectiveness and necessity for all aspects of operational expenditure.
  • First and foremost a change in Council culture will be implemented to make it more efficient, responsive and flexible in how it operates.  The skills of top executives who have successfully achieved transformational cultural change in the private sector will be called on to assist in this transition.
  • The CEO and senior management team will be tasked with identifying and reporting on poor quality spending, and underperforming programmes and initiatives as a priority.
  • A more strategic approach to budgeting that requires prioritisation will replace the “cost plus” mentality that has been the historic approach to Council budgeting.  As a first step each department within Council will be set an efficiency target, averaging 3-6 percent across total Council expenditure to contribute toward future cost pressures.  Areas where staffing and expenditure are very high or have increased disproportionately, such as in governance and communications, will be expected to find higher levels of savings.
  • Where new expenditure is sought, the expectation will be that funding should be secured by the discontinuation of lower value activity, rather than simply assuming the continuous growth in functions and expenditure.
  • Achieving incremental improvements across all of the Council’s service lines will be a minimum expectation.  This will be reinforced through the benchmarking of service costs and performance with other councils offering comparable services.  For some service lines, however, incremental improvements will be insufficient. Profound transformation will be needed to achieve better value at lower cost.  Achieving this will require the Council to tap the talents, wisdom and creativity of both its employees and the wider community - businesses, NGOs and individual ratepayers.  A contestable Innovation Fund financed by efficiency savings will be established to support this process.  Anyone with a promising idea will have the opportunity to apply to the Fund to develop their idea to the point a decision on whether to proceed to implementation is taken.  Priority will be given to “invest to save” innovations that deliver both better value and also lower the forecast trajectory of future spending. 
  • Further investment in procurement systems is needed to deliver savings for ratepayers.   When combined, the Council and CCOs purchase $2.4 billion of goods and services each year.  This comprises 68 percent of total Council spending and provides significant opportunities to achieve lower prices through economies of scale.  Achieving these economies, however, requires the Council to build a sophisticated, commercial procurement capability to counter the perception that publicly funded institutions are a ‘soft touch’ for providers and contractors. Every 1 percent of procurement savings could release up to $24 million that will contribute to lower cost pressures on rates. A minimum annual targets of 3 percent must be achieved when the policy is fully implemented.
  • The contracting out of functions should normally occur when the Council lacks specialist staff to do a job and where it costs more for the Council to build and retain an in-house capability than to purchase it from the market.  Council has found that in some instances, such as animal control, bringing Council services back in house has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This illustrates that a pragmatic, case-by-case assessment of out-sourcing decisions is needed.

Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs)

While CCOs have been established as arms-length entities, clear expectations will be established for all CCOs with respect to their revenues, expenditure and financial management.  This will include:

  • An expectation that all CCOs will participate in the collaborative procurement of non-specialised inputs to maximise the economies of scale from the Group procurement spend, with this activity being led by the Council’s team.
  • An expectation the Council and CCOs will progressively move together as a Group towards a shared services environment for other back office functions, including computing, finance, payroll and HR.
  • Investigate adopting a fair level of user-pays where there are demonstrable private benefits generated from CCO operations.  For example, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), a CCO with expenditure of around $70 million a year, generates benefits for the city as a whole, but it also generates benefits for specific industries, such as tourism and hospitality providers.  This could generate savings and better focused programmes more responsive to businesses. 
  • The elimination of duplication with other organisations with a presence in Auckland, including central government.  For example, both ATEED and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) have a strong presence in Auckland.  Wherever practical these two organisations should be run like a joint venture so they can leverage their respective strengths, achieve common goals, and control their combined expenditure.

Capex and Debt Management

To support the development of the future urban land necessary to accommodate Auckland's growth an additional $17-$20 billion is needed for core infrastructure to support future urban land areas. This is on top of the $18.7 billion already budgeted for in the Long Term Plan.

Limits on borrowing capacity and the inequity and inappropriateness of using rates as a major funding mechanism means alternative funding sources for infrastructure are necessary.  Options include: government revenue sharing with Council, private-public partnerships, and build, own, operate and transfer projects or the raising of infrastructure bonds by Government or Council with mechanisms to service the interest on and repayment of those bonds.

The size and rapidity of Auckland’s growth, and the importance to New Zealand as a whole in managing and optimising that growth, means that inevitably there needs to be a coordinated, partnership approach to capital and infrastructure needs by local and central government.  The Auckland Transport Alignment Project is a positive response to the previous uncoordinated efforts of both tiers of Government.

The Infrastructure Fund, which makes $1 billion of interest-free capital available to high growth areas repayable over 10 years, is an acknowledgement by central Government of the role it must play.  That fund, however, shared across New Zealand growth areas would meet about one fortieth of Auckland’s capital needs -and would need major expansion to have a meaningful impact.

As Mayor, I will work constructively with central Government to address Auckland’s infrastructure needs.  Auckland makes up 35 percent of the population and 37 percent of production of New Zealand. Auckland first must succeed for New Zealand to succeed. 

  • Funding may come in part from the sale of non-strategic surplus assets. Assets surplus to needs or not producing an adequate return to Auckland ratepayers should be considered for sale on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Key strategic assets will not be sold. Both Treasury and Cameron Partners examined the future of Auckland’s assets and concluded their sale is not an answer to Auckland’s infrastructure investment needs. 
  • The 22 percent shareholding in Auckland International Airport Ltd will be retained in public ownership.  This is a strategic shareholding in an asset important to Auckland’s role as New Zealand’s gateway city.  It has produced a significant income stream for Auckland ratepayers. 
  • Watercare is a $9 billion asset.  It currently pays no dividend, which allows for its earnings to be reinvested in providing infrastructure for the growing population and to upgrade facilities.  It will not be sold.
  • Auckland Port’s land is its most valuable asset.  Its current land belongs to and should be owned permanently by the people of Auckland.  The Port’s operation should continue within Council ownership pending long-term decisions on the future of the Port.
  • Auckland must continue to manage its debt responsibly with the objective of maintaining its AA credit rating.  We will work with Government to further develop the Infrastructure Fund as a mechanism to meet the costs of new infrastructure requirements.  Our goal will be to bring forward the capital investment needed to deal with transport gridlock and the housing crisis.
  • We will work with Government to examine infrastructure bonds as a mechanism to keep down initial new housing costs by spreading the cost of infrastructure needed for new housing developments over time, with costs met from targeted rates.
  • We will work with Government to allow capital costs of transport infrastructure to be met out of a road pricing model.
  • We will win the confidence of both ratepayers and Government that Auckland has achieved excellence in its expenditure performance and that capital invested in Auckland is money well spent both for its citizens and the country as a whole.

Protecting the Waitemata

It is Auckland’s environment that makes our city so special – our stunning beaches, iconic volcanic cones, multitude of green spaces and especially our sparkling harbours.

 At the heart of the city is the Waitemata Harbour, the jewel in our crown.

 It is a beautiful harbour. But for generations Aucklanders have been denied access to much of it by the commercial activities of the Ports of Auckland Ltd.

Car storage, containers, a tank farm and the red iron railings around the wharves have stood in the way of Aucklanders enjoying full access to their harbour. This has started to change in recent times with the redevelopment and renovation of the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter.  They have become world-class, vibrant and exciting places to be, attracting locals and visitors alike for recreation, living and working.

Many of us believe that we should look to move Auckland’s port from the CBD altogether and take the path that other cities - such as London, Vancouver, San Francisco, Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington - have followed. Ports of Auckland have resisted this. It wants to reclaim more of the harbour and extend the wharves.

Today we are at a crossroads. Should the port be allowed to claim more of the harbour to provide the extra space and capacity it needs to meet the demands of a growing city or should we move it?

Under my leadership, no more reclamation will be allowed.  This decision will give the port company the clarity they need to start making alterative plans. In the short term, the port will need to better utilise the existing site without expanding its footprint. In the longer term, it will need to find another site with more space to meet the growth in freight as the city’s population grows.

Shifting the port brings significant benefits.  Rather than using 75 hectares of prime CBD waterfront land for storing cars and containers, we can create new public spaces, residential living and high-value commercial opportunities that will bring economic and social benefits and more jobs for the city and its people.

Because 90 percent of the freight coming and going from the port is moved by road, 2000 heavy trucks clog our inner city streets and motorways every day. Over time, this number will double, causing even greater congestion.

Auckland Council needs to start the detailed process necessary to find and cost an alternative preferred site now.

It is a process that the region more broadly and central government must also participate in.  A regional and national ports strategy is needed to determine the best way to configure the ports of Auckland, Whangarei and Tauranga so that we achieve the best outcome - economically, socially and environmentally.

There needs to be a collaborative and consultative process with all stakeholders to ensure that the decision about an alternative port site takes full account of community and environmental concerns.

Council needs full information on the technical feasibility and the cost of shifting to alternative locations and how that can be paid for. The studies done to date do not provide this. This information is essential before final decisions can be made.

The cost of leaving the port where it is would itself require more investment. This offsets the cost of moving the port. Assessment of the economic returns on the alternative uses of the city centre waterfront also need to be part of that calculation.

Moving the port will:

-Revitalise Auckland’s waterfront as it has for other cities that moved their ports out of the city centre.

-Restore public access and enjoyment of the waterfront.

-Generate substantively more economic, environmental and social value from the land by ensuring better public, residential and commercial use.

-Improve facilities for cruise ships given Auckland benefits by a million dollars a day in spending by cruise ship visitors.

-Reduce congestion on roads and motorways leading out of the waterfront.

-By stopping further reclamation, give Ports of Auckland the certainty to plan ahead for a future move while, in the short term, manage the need for increased freight volumes through more efficient use of the existing site.

Auckland needs a strong, clear vision for the future of its waterfront and harbours. It’s time to make the hard decisions needed to deliver on that vision for the benefit of the city and its people. 

Authorised by Phil Goff, 59 High St, Auckland