Auckland mayoral transport funding debate needs innovation and urgency
13th February 2012
The initiative of Auckland Mayor Len Brown to encourage Aucklanders to debate how to pay for Auckland’s future transport infrastructure is timely and welcome, said Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett.
The Mayoral report sets out 12 options for addressing the estimated $10-and-$15 billion funding gap for financing major transport infrastructure that will be needed over the next 10-15 years to keep pace with Auckland’s rapid growth.
“However, if we are to have a rigorous debate that looks at all funding sources without a pre-conception of the most efficient, affordable and fair to all Aucklanders, options such as asset sales – partial or full – and infrastructure bonds should be part of the debate.”
Given that Auckland currently generates around a third of the nation’s growth, and is anticipated that more than 50% of New Zealand’s GDP will come from Auckland in the foreseeable future, it is also critical that central government actively participates in the debate.
“Government has rightly embarked on a rebuild of Christchurch as a priority of our nationhood. One of the best options to generate increased productivity and resulting taxation to help fund the rebuild is by getting the Auckland economy singing. This in turn will require a high performing transport network as a priority.
“Yes, we need a debate on how to fund the first class transport network for Auckland, as much in the interests of lifting Auckland’s economy and lifestyle as generating wealth for the whole of New Zealand.
But we need the debate to be focussed on the transport network that we need now if we are to lift our game, and then design a coherent funding plan to build it with speed and urgency,” said Mr Barnett.
All funding options – innovative and traditional, the outrageous and the courageous – should be on the table. If we are to be the world’s most liveable city, then we will need to bring to the debate some of the innovative thinking we showed at the Cloud during the Rugby World Cup. “We showed the world that ‘we think differently here’.
“This funding paper is not thinking differently. Bringing some fresh thinking to the debate that moves beyond set positions and ideology seems to me a critical need,” suggested Mr Barnett.
For more information contact Michael Barnett on 0275 631 150.