If you’re a follower of the port debate you might be frustrated today, because the decision’s been delayed again pending yet another report.
We’ve had 20 reports in ten years, and now we’ve just ordered the 21st.
But, as frustrating as it is, this is the right thing to do. Moving the country’s biggest import port out of the country’s biggest city is a huge undertaking. It’s going to cost us billions of dollars, so we’d better be damned sure that we’re doing the right thing.
And right now, we can’t all agree what the right thing is, because the 20 reports we’ve had don’t all agree with each other and a whole bunch of them have questions of bias, including the report that Shane Jones released today.
That seems to be at least part of the reason why senior Labour Party MPs aren’t just saying yes to New Zealand First’s demand to move the port, because critics say it’s hardly a surprise that the report said what Jones hoped it would say.
Jones lives in Northland. He wants to run for Parliament in Northland. He commissioned the report, and the report’s working party was chaired by a mate of his.
Now, I’m not saying this report’s conclusions are wrong, or that the author of the report set out to prove a pre-determined case. What I’m saying is that perception exists, and it’s been used to undermine this report, in the same way that that’s happened with past reports.
So the 21st report, the one commissioned today, should, fingers crossed, be considered more neutral. It’ll be done by the Ministry of Transport and the independent Infrastructure Council, and we should have it by mid-next year. And, I suspect, we could well have a decision before the next election.
Now, of course this report isn’t going to satisfy everyone. It won’t suddenly deliver national unity on the matter of the ports. But it should perhaps shut down some of the more strident critics of moving the port, and give those worried Labour ministers just that little bit of extra confidence to get on and finally make the decision we’ve been dawdling over for more than a decade now.