Mike's Minute: There is no sense in moving Auckland's port

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 Dec 2019, 9:34AM

Mike's Minute: There is no sense in moving Auckland's port

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 Dec 2019, 9:34AM

I wrote in the Herald several months ago about the Auckland Port and its potential to be moved.

It was after the first of the reports. At that point it wasn't a story, it should have been, hence I wrote about it. I even apologised for writing about it, accepting that it was and to many, still is, one of those tedious, infrastructural yarns that sends people to sleep.

So I am more than happy to see the ensuing head of steam that is being built up recently now that enough people have woken up and realised what a potential stitch up we have on our hands.

Sadly, too much of the story has turned into a telethon type escapade whereby there seems to be some sort of contest to find well known people to get behind the move. Sir John Key is one, Helen Clark is another, and there is an "eminent persons" letter, as though being an eminent person somehow makes you an expert in infrastructure.

How does the ratio work? How many moderately well known people do you need on your team to offset one Sir John Key? What's a Sir Graham Henry worth?  Two Dame Anne Salmonds? If I can line up four All Blacks and get half the Blues back-line to sign, does that mean it’s a done deal and we don’t have to look at the detail anymore?

NZIER has had a look at the case and put numbers next to, what most of us who have looked at this impartially, probably already knew. It costs more to move cargo to Auckland, if it doesn’t arrive in Auckland in the first place. No kidding, Sherlock.

It's $626 million a year more, why would anyone pay that when they don't have to? A family of four would pay $1400 a year more on imported goods, why would they want to do that? There would be 212,000 extra tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted as a result of moving stuff further. Surely in this woke age of saving the planet with the Greens in government that is the end of that, isn't it?

Why isn't that level of carbon emission increase causing an outrage? Trucks are on the road that don’t need to be, trains are using fossil fuels, boats transporting cars, so where is Chloe Swarbrick, Golriz Ghahraman, Julie Anne Genter, and James Shaw? Where are the placards? Why are they silent?

Could it be because this is all a little bit embarrassing? Could it be because this is a New Zealand First vanity project stitched up behind closed doors designed to provide a legacy project for Winston Peters? And grab a seat or two, or certainly some votes up the North of the country where they just happen to come from?

The report, of course, was headed by Wayne Brown, a former Mayor of the Far North. The north, as in Northport, lest we forget, was elevated in the final report as a location. In a way that if the port were an Olympic athlete the drugs committee would be taking samples. It's gone from 12th to 1st, extraordinary.

While we all agree the Auckland Port is ugly and we wouldn't do it if we were starting again, we are not starting again. Because if you're even remotely honest and unbiased about this, as NZIER so clearly proves, starting again is a fiscal nightmare and an environmental disaster.

It makes no economic sense whatsoever, unless you're a politician and you're desperate to prove otherwise.