Friday, 1st July, 2016

Port will have to move but not before a credible long-term strategy is confirmed

Interest groups in Auckland and its waterfront chose a group of representatives to determine the future of the port. Their consensus is that the Port is going to have to move but not before a credible location – either in the Firth of Thames or Manukau Harbour - is confirmed and meanwhile the current port needs to be supported to ensure it continues to be highly competitive and viable.

Business accepts that Auckland’s commercial port will need to move long-term, but not before a new site has been selected and consented, said Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett.

As New Zealand’s biggest import port, an early decision to move without the certainty of where to and when would be irresponsible. “There needs to be long-term strategy along the lines of the integrated package of recommendations set out in the CWG report.”

Meanwhile for the good of Auckland’s economy - the City’s businesses and residents, especially those close to the Port - there needs to be early decisions to commence the improvements flagged in the CWG report:

  • On the port through the central wharves strategy to address the need to increase berth length and yard space for growth of cruise and handling longer ships, plus measures to improve processing of imported vehicles (car park building); and,
  • Off-site to address road and rail access. In respect of road access, regardless of the port traffic there is a strong case to address congestion in the Grafton Gully area in conjunction with potential property value uplift and amenity improvements. This is a legacy project that has been on Auckland’s books for 20+ years.

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce will be strongly advocating for these projects to proceed with urgency – the incoming mayor and council should commit to these projects.

Those at the table had compromised to get this result. There was acknowledgement that for the port to be able to justify a move it needed to be a viable business, and for this to be delivered additional berth length needs to be provided in the short to medium term. Shedding or downsizing freight operations would weaken the case for moving the port.

“Given Auckland’s limited resources it is a pity that ratepayers’ money had to be directed at this exercise. I believe the outcome is something that could have been achieved through a better understanding of the port as an asset and through better leadership,” concluded Mr Barnett.

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.