Auckland’s freight port is one of the biggest decisions this country will ever
make and needs a full assessment of all the challenges and opportunities,” says
Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair.
recommend that the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) reports be
upgraded to a fully compliant Better Business Case, with independent oversight
from the Infrastructure Commission.
Zealand Cabinet Rules and NZ Treasury advocates use of the Better Business Case
for all significant investment decisions involving whole of life costs of more
than NZ$15 million.
New Zealand welcomes constructive debate on the critical transport
infrastructure of the Upper North Island supply chain.
applaud UNISCS Working Group for shining a light on this important sector, but
think this is the start of the discussion, not a conclusion.
Victoria, the state’s equivalent of our new Infrastructure Commission, led a
detailed and independent assessment of Victoria’s port strategy in 2017, which
considered a new port to supplement or replace the existing Port of Melbourne.
Victoria highlighted two critical factors for an efficient and effective port,
based on global best practice. Ports should be as close as possible to their
customers to minimise land transport costs and have a balance of imports and
exports to avoid the costs of shipping empty containers to the next port.
Victoria’s independence, use of global port experts, and wide consultation
produced an evidence base which removed the political heat that surrounded
Victoria’s port future. We believe a similar process should be used in New
have five major questions that we expect a future Better Business Case would
additional freight costs need to be fully addressed. 80% of Ports of Auckland’s
goods are currently delivered by truck within 20 kilometers of the port gates.
Even if 70% of freight arrives back in Auckland by rail, it will arrive at an
inland port somewhere in West Auckland and still need to move 20-30 kilometres
to its final destination. In addition to financial costs, the report is silent
on the substantial carbon emissions and potential road and rail safety issues
from freight travelling through the crowded Auckland isthmus.
if Ports of Auckland is forced to close and the government builds a new port
140 km north, how confident are we that freight companies will go to Northport?
companies will go to ports where they can balance export and import loads to
minimise the number of vessel calls. Northland does have a growing export base,
but it is substantially less than Auckland’s import volume. Even if the freight
did follow the investment to Northport, we may all be paying much more to have
empty containers moved from Northport to our main export port in Tauranga.
we need to consider what the issues are that we are trying to solve and what’s
the best way to achieve them.
we want to revitalise Northland, is this $10+ billion investment the best
bang-for-buck? If we are aiming to decongest Auckland, will this move really
solve the city’s transport woes? We call for further investigation of
revenue-neutral road pricing as a tool to unblock traffic congestion.
we need to understand who pays for this move and who benefits. The UNISCS
report gives us an overall cost-benefit ratio, but individuals and businesses
will be impacted in significant and divergent ways. Moreover, the analysis is
heavily influenced by which projects are included in it.
Aucklanders want a low-density parkland waterfront, are they willing to pay for
that in higher rates, taxes, and higher costs on their goods?
each of the ports in question (Auckland, Tauranga, and Northport) have
different ownership and governance structures. Taxpayer investment of $10+
billion will produce costs and benefits for individuals, councils and private
investors. Rationalisation of the governance of our ports would be complex but
must be considered given the amount of money involved.
proposed port move would be New Zealand’s largest ever infrastructure
investment and will have long-lasting impacts on New Zealand.
Infrastructure Commission was established precisely to provide an independent
evidence base for these kinds of infrastructure decisions.
should use their independence and expertise to make sure this once-in-a-century
decision is the right one,” says Blair.
For further information and comment contact Paul
Blair on 021 902 436