Posts Tagged ‘Auckland’
Speech to Labour Party Auckland-Northland regional conference, Henderson
You’ve seen the image of Michael Joseph Savage carrying the furniture into the first state house at 12 Fife Lane, Miramar in 1937. It’s a big moment. Bob Semple, Walter Nash and John A Lee are all there. The Ministers have their sleeves rolled up. People are smiling. It’s an exciting moment.
The massive programme of state house building was one of the greatest achievements of the First Labour Government. They did it because they knew sub-standard housing lay at the root of so many social problems: illness, and the vulnerability of the poorest people to extortionate rents.
They did it because they were willing to use the power of the state to tackle problems that for decades the political establishment said were intractable, that such things must be left to the market to sort out, that in any case where would the money come from?
It is time once again to roll up our sleeves.
The quality of our housing, the shape of our cities, the lack of public transport, the cost of buying a house…these issues have once again become red hot issues. Labour’s willingness to pick up a hammer and actually build houses; our readiness to build the City Rail Link; these issues will have an impact on next year’s general election.
Third world diseases, associated with overcrowding and sub-standard housing, have come back to haunt New Zealand as poverty and inequality have risen. 900,000 homes have inadequate insulation. We know these diseases affect the children of the poor. The research shows there are too many kids dying unnecessary deaths from diseases like asthma, rheumatic fever, meningococcal disease. We know that most children growing up in poverty live in private rentals. That is a fact.
Which is why our Healthy Homes Guarantee will make it compulsory for rental homes to be properly insulated and have an efficient source of heating. We will amend the Residential Tenancies Act. End of story. National announced they will consider the development of a warrant of fitness they will trial in Housing NZ homes. They are going to trial this policy in the very houses – Housing NZ homes – that don’t need it. Houses that have all been retrofitted and insulated. But they won’t do a damn thing for the tenants of private rentals where hundreds of thousands of the poorest Kiwi families live in uninsulated damp and cold houses.
If you are struggling to work out quite what has happened today in terms of the government’s handling of the Party Central/Rail Fail events in Auckland, then you will not be alone. Its been a confusing day with the government’s attempts ranging from bluster and denial to what sounded like outright takeover.
The best attempt at making sense of it all to my mind came from John Campbell on tonight’s Campbell Live. It is well worth a watch, which you can do by clicking here.
Several highlights for me
- John’s description of the opening night of the World Cup as ” A great start with a side order of complete and utter shambles”
- The extraordinary revelation that neither Murray McCully nor John Key spoke to Len Brown about their decision to invoke some powers before they told the media.
- John asking the question that was also asked several times in Parliament today by Phil Goff- ” What has the Minister for the Rugby World Cup actually been doing for the last three years.”
- Len Brown’s gritted teeth state of calm. I think he comes off well. Accepting his share of the blame and making very clear that the whole process has been a collaboration with the government and that they have “equal responsibility”.
Everyone, including me, wants New Zealand to host a successful Rugby World Cup. We have made a great start around the country and the rugby hasn’t been half bad either. Now is the time for us to sort out what is happening in Auckland, and for the government to work with the Council and take its share of the responsibility for what’s gone wrong, and what we hope will go right.
I spent yesterday at an excellent Smart Transport forum co-hosted at Parliament by Labour and the Greens.
One of the highlights was a presentation by Australian transport expert Dr Paul Mees who you can hear interviewed on National Radio. Mees debunks the myth that Auckland is such a low density sprawl that public transport can never be economic, and argues that its linear geography makes it ideal for rail.
There was some good debate between transport activists who had come from around the country, and people like Lawrence Yule (mayor of Hastings Napier and president of Local Government NZ) and Stephen Selwood of the Council for Infrastructure Development. Also excellent were Chris Harris, who has done pioneering work telling the story of Auckland’s 60 years of motorway madness, and Julie Anne Genter who has shown the enormous land resource our car dependent city invests in parking.
Standing in for Shane Jones our transport spokesperson, I spoke for Labour. The forum showed there is a gulf between National’s obsession with the Roads of National Party Significance, and the centre-left’s plan for a more sustainable, more diversified, and more economically prudent transport system.
I argued the sharp end of the debate is happening in Auckland where the Government has set out to sink the city rail link promoted by Mayor Len Brown and the Auckland Council.
60 years of motorway madness in Auckland has made living in the city’s far flung car-dependent suburbs less liveable than it should be. Where I live in west Auckland there are many people who spend an hour and a half commuting to work morning and evening. It is not uncommon for it to take 20-30 minutes to make the mile-long journey from home to motorway on ramp.
There is a widespread transport poverty. People lose thousands of dollars out of their household budgets because there is no real alternative to running a car to get to work. And up to 10 hours a week sitting in traffic: time that could be spent with the kids, playing sport, going fishing, getting an education. I don’t need to tell you it is the poorest members of our society who suffer these things the worst.
This is a direct result of a stubborn insistence over six decades on building Auckland around motorways. The current scrap between Aucklanders and this Government over the Rail Link, and competing visions for the city – sprawl v compact city, public transport v more motorways – is a fight for the soul of our largest city. The outcome will have huge implications for generations to come.
(full speech below)
If you want to hear more about this issue come along to ‘Keeping Auckland’s Transport on Track’, 6.30pm 25 August, at Trades Hall, 149 Gt North Rd, Grey Lynn. Speakers include Mike Lee, chair of the Auckland Council Transport Committee, Cameron Pitches from the Campaign for Better Transport, Wayne Butson of the RMTU, and me.
Its worth noting that tonight Otago broke a 35 year drought and beat Auckland at Eden Park in the ITM (provincial rugby) Cup. It was 1976 the last time Otago won up in Auckland. Rob Muldoon was still Prime Minister for goodness sake. The Highlanders did it in Super 14 a few years back, but the blue and golds have come so close, so many times, but never quite got there.
As a former Otagoite I can tell you how deeply this is felt in the South. I can remember a Ranfurly Shield challenge in 1985 where if Noel Pilcher had just stretched out Otago would have gone in front, but instead they let in a late try and lost. Most famously people will remember Colin Hawke’s unbelievable decision to award a penalty try in 1995 to deny Otago the NPC title. It rates as the fourth worst referring decision of all time, according to some. Otago folk were still taking the pins out of their Hawke voodoo dolls from the year before when he denied the blue and golds the Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury.
But tonight it was all put to rest. Most of the team were not born in 1976. In fact only two were. Tony Brown and Kees Meeuws, two stalwarts of Otago rugby were among the best on the field tonight. They, and a team of younger players brimming with energy looked good tonight. This could be their year, but whatever they will go down as legends, who finally put a province’s anguish to rest. Well done lads.
Jarbury has done a comparative graph of the benefits of all the Roads of National Significance attached. This says it all.
It’s finally out. The business case for the Auckland’s CBD rail loop. And what a compelling case.
The pure transport cost-benefit is 1.1 (at the standard Treasury 8% discount rate). But the wider economic cost-benefit take it up to a whopping 3.5.
As it says, “the benefits of the CBD Rail Link far exeed the travel time savings due to enhanced transport efficiency”. It “increases CBD employment by 20,000 to 25,000 without requiring additional road capacity or using scarce CBD land for additional parking. This enables the Auckland CBD to become a much more vibrant and exciting pedestrian environment … .”
The overall impact will be a “more exciting and vibarnt sense of place enable Auckland to serve as New Zealand’s outward facing global city for retaining and attracting the highly educated younger workforce that will underpin productivity growth (and also international competitiveness) in the future”.
Now compare the figures with Joyce’s Holiday Highway. It has a transport cost-benefit of 0.8 – less than a dollar back for every dollar spent.
And the wider benefits? Just 1.1. Pathetic versus 3.5 for the CBD loop. We certainly need to upgrade SH 1, it’s just that we don’t need to do it with a brand new motorway.
How can Joyce justify spending up to $2 billion on that road when this case is so compelling.
Our rear-vision minister will need to be creative with his figures to justify his spending.
Just over a week ago Kiwirail made a quiet announcement. Without any fanfare it had surprisingly extended the number of bidders from 4 to 10 for the $500m of Govt money to build trains for Auckland’s electrified system.
Now that might not have caught attention, except that an independent group of people led by an Aucklander Danise McEvoy had several months before been charged with deciding on who the short-listed bidders would be based on a rigorous process. They had announced a group of four in July.
Yet inexplicably on 3 September, Kiwirail changed the goalposts and when the RFP was announced six more companies were included (several of which I understand had been excluded first time round). The big question is why? And who will gain? I suspect the original four won’t.
In his media release Kiwirail CEO Jim Quinn said the number had been increased because:
“in extending the number to receive the documentation from an initial shortlist of four, we have reflected on the critical importance of securing the best possible whole of life outcome taking account of quality and cost.”
Whatever that means! Despite him claiming otherwise, it’s my understanding that the six new companies did not meet KiwiRail’s original qualifying criteria.
I also understand that at least once of the four companies on the original short list are considering their options given the change in the bidding process. (Update: that view has since been reinforced strongly)
And you’ve got to admit it looks pretty damn odd. Even dodgy. And just who decided to include the six new bidders?
- CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co Ltd The Chinese company was founded in 1936. In 1958, ZELC successfully developed and manufactured the first main line electric locomotive in China. In 1978, it switched to electric locomotives. It calls itself the main development and manufacturing base of electric locomotives in China.
- CSR Nanjing Puzhen Ltd. It build this high speed train in time for China’s Olympics.
- UGL Rail Services Limited – the largest end-to-end rail technology solutions provider/integrator in the Asia Pacific region, and Australia’s largest supplier of outsourced asset management and lifecycle engineering services. Its clients include RailCorp in New South Wales, Yarra Trams in Victoria, MTR Corporation in Hong Kong, Queensland Rail (QR) and Pacific National (PN).
- a consortium of Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and Nippon Sharyo Ltd,
- China’s LORIC Import & Export Corporation Limited and
- Downer EDI Rail Pty Ltd (which has been producing passenger vehicles for use throughout Australia since the mid-1800s).
Thankfully there’s a blogger in Auckland called Jon C who writes a blog called Aucklandtrains and pays pretty close attention to this stuff. He points to increasing speculation about China chasing infrastructure work in New Zealand, especially after transport minister Steven Joyce and prime minister John Key both visited China recently. The NZ Herald has written about this. So has the ODT. You’d think it would be a bigger story. Not sure why the media haven’t hopped into it more.
Last Thursday, my colleague Darren Hughes asked why:
“At the eleventh hour, KiwiRail decided to increase the short-list of prospective tenderers for a $500 million contract to build Auckland’s electric trains doubling the number of interested parties and lessening the chances of a successful Kiwi bid.
“Steven Joyce’s latest move as Transport Minister has been described by the industry as ‘mind boggling’ especially when figures released today show manufacturing is at a 10 year low.*
“This bizarre move raises questions about the integrity of the tender process, the priorities of this government and the transparent nature of the Minister’s dealings.
You’ve got to ask yourself why the govt (and I bet it wasn’t just Kiwirail) made the decision to include four more players in the Auckland train bid. Isn’t that intereferring in a tender process?
Given this development, just what chance does a substantial NZ build have? Is there a preferred bidder? Is it going to be a largely overseas build? What about Kiwi jobs?
I reckon the government needs to be pretty careful here. The media may not be watching closely (yet) but there’s a bunch of Labour MPs, industry reps and Chambers of Commerce who are, who care about Kiwi jobs and the sustainability of Kiwirail’s mechanical division and our rail engineering capability in this country. Because it’s not just Kiwirail jobs at stake. There’s a wider engineering industry. They’re Kiwi jobs.
And it’s NZ’s reputation in being able to run a credible tender process.
Social policy expert Ian Shirley has launched a blistering attack on the Government’s super city model for Auckland. Prof Shirley is pro-vice chancellor of AUT University, and professor of public policy with the university’s institute of public policy.
He says the proposed model for Auckland’s governance effectively removes local government from Auckland and argues that it will be “a corporate structure where the major beneficiaries will be the exclusive brethren of big business, merchant bankers and a narrow range of consultants dominated by legal and accountancy firms”.
Prof Shirley was speaking to the National Policy Makers Conference 2010 in Wellington today.
The super city…”ignores history, fails to connect in any meaningful way with the diverse populations and neighbourhoods of the region and has established a corporate framework and process that will not gain the trust of ratepayers.”
He says the policies are driven by a form of economic fundamentalism that equates ‘governance’ with managing a ‘business’ and reduces democracy to a token engagement in the decision-making systems of local and regional government.
Amen to that.
It was a unique coming-together of various religious groups at the 2010 Buddha’s Day Multicultural Festival on the weekend.
Held at the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Botany, representatives from numerous religious groups, including Anglican, Hindu, Sikh, Musilm and Tibetian Buddhist prayed for peace in front of a large audience.
This solidarity and shared respect between different religious groups is not often seen, and I was proud to witness the various religious leaders align for the special day.
Revered Spiritual Leader Abbess Manshin hosted the event, praying in her fluent mandarin and English before Hon Phil Goff, who led the Labour team of Hon Chris Carter, Hon Winnie Laban and myself, spoke to the audience.
Phil Goff’s speech touched the listeners as he spoke about world peace and what can be achieved through Labour’s vision of strong and inclusive communities which is at the heart of New Zealand’s multicultural society.
Phil Goff must have been blessed before he spoke, as he was the only speaker to not be interrupted by microphone troubles!
I was honoured by the strong presence of Interfaith Spokesperson Winnie Laban and wish to acknowledge her valuable attendance.
Photo: Anurag Sharma
The cost is roughly similar to the Puhoi-Wellsford road, the benefits are far greater, so why is Joyce not keen on this one? An interesting question. What do you think?
Rodney Hide confirmed in question time today that Cabinet’s decision to allow Auckland’s super city council to privatise its $5 billion water company from 2015 stands despite earlier suggestions to the contrary.
Two weeks ago in the Herald it appeared Hide was saying this decision had been superceded by a later decision. But the Cabinet minutes don’t bear it out.
This is strange. Did Hide mean to confirm that privatisation decision stands? He has been under a lot of pressure lately.
Here are the facts:
- On October 19 Cabinet supported Rodney Hide and decided to allow the new Auckland Council to move to privatise its water assets after 2015.
- A week later, Cabinet took a completely contradictory position and refused to support Rodney Hide’s proposed change to the Local Government Act (LGA) which would enable full privatisation of local government water assets nationwide. Instead they made a series of changes to loosen the controls on public-private partnerships in the water sector.
- On November 9, following an interview with Rodney Hide, the Herald reported that while Cabinet approved the privatisation of $5 billion worth of Auckland’s water assets, it was over-turned by the subsequent LGA decision.
Mr Hide or the Prime Minister need to clarify exactly what is going on.
Update: Late this afternoon the Minister’s office released a statement saying that Councils’ responsibilities for providing water supplies will not be changed by recent Cabinet decisions including the one on October 19 to “allow the new Auckland Council to determine from 2015 the governance arrangements and asset ownership for the delivery of water services”. Mr Hide says now there is no intention to over ride the provisions of the Local Government Act that prohibit privatisation of water assets. That’s a relief.
But strange then, that after talking with Mr Hide two weeks ago the NZ Herald was clearly left with the impression that the intention of the October 19 Cabinet decision was to allow for privatisation from 2015. The Herald reported as such and the Minister of Local Government has taken two weeks to issue a clarification. Odd.
It is also strange that the Cabinet Minute of October 19 purports to allow the Auckland Council to determine the asset ownership and structure of the water company from 2015. Why, if it didn’t intend to override the Local Government Act and allow privatisation, did Cabinet need to spell out what the Auckland Council would be able to do anyway, that is change the structure of one of its own organisations?
In the end, there was a pretty mean celebration at some conference or other, while Get Across cyclists broke the barriers and cycled across anyway.
But yesterday, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was transformed into a grassy picnic ground and attended by 6000 picnickers chosen in a ballot to enjoy food, music and the fabulous view. They even had cows grazing on the fake grass to add to the rustic atmosphere.
That’s smart tourism thinking – using an iconic structure as an attraction for something other than traffic.
So how about a break from all that tarmac Mr Joyce?
Yesterday the Government passed the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill on a vote of 64 to 58 after a long debate under urgency. We put up a good fight but it wasn’t enough as the Nats and ACT finally passed it just before lunchtime. There were many good speeches from Labour and we dominated the debate as the Nats were too lazy to speak on the bill.
Below is my speech from the third reading of the bill (you can also watch it here) which sums up Labour’s position:
We have heard some plaintive mews from the National benches, saying that we in the Labour Opposition actually support this bill. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, we do support having a unitary authority and we do support having one mayor. We support one council, one plan, and one rates bill. We support an integrated water company and a transport authority in public ownership. We support much but not all of what the Royal Commission recommended in March.
However, we do not support this Government’s ham-fisted mishandling of the Auckland governance reforms. We do not support the rushed process, the confiscation of Aucklanders’ right to a referendum, the abuse of urgency in this House, and the fake listening campaign conducted by the members on the other side of the House.
We do not support the ill-judged plans for powerless boards and “at large’ councillors, or the fiasco over M?ori representation that saw the Prime Minister professing to have an open mind on the issue weeks after he had caved in to Rodney Hide’s threat to resign. (more…)
I felt sad today to hear the lack of debate or input from National MPs on Maori representation on the Super City Bill. Are they whipped into subservience to Rodney Hide’s determination and will that Maori will not have a voice in governance on what will be the biggest local government entity in NZ? I sat in the house for six hours and only four MPs spoke in the debate while over 40 Labour MPs spoke out.
Rodney Hide has rolled the Maori Party in favour of Rodney ( literally ) and Maori participation doesn’t matter to this government. Roll on the 2010 local Body elections to be followed by the general election in 2011. Maori will continue to speak out and Auckland will be the losers!
The previous government’s decision to fund the Americas Cup challenge was a bit controversial. Even my old mate McCully criticised it. Notwithstanding the fact that it was revenue +ve for the government. Because most of the funding comes from off shore and results in both PAYE and GST here.
And the challenge hasn’t been that smooth. Too many lawyers. But in the interim – and without any extra government funding the team has been doing well and we are going to get another of the alternative cup events down here early next year. Good little economic boost as well as some fun.
This is what Team NZ say:
Auckland will host a second Louis Vuitton regatta in March 2010.
Following the success of the LVPS regatta sailed in Auckland last February, Emirates Team New Zealand and other teams have been working with major sponsor Louis Vuitton to establish a top level series of regattas.
The first regatta of the Louis Vuitton World Series will be held at Nice, France, from November 7 – 22 this year. In March 2010 Auckland will host the second round and the third will he held at La Maddalena, Italy, in May.
In the Super City debate today in the House (9am-midnight) Labour is introducing these amendments:
- Maori representation – ensures that the new Auckland Council will include Maori members elected in proportion to the number of Maori in Auckland on the Maori electoral rolls.
- Number of Councillors – Change the total number of councillors to 25.
- Northern Boundary – Ensure the boundary set out by the Royal Commission is followed.
- Southern Boundary – Ensure the boundary set out by the Royal Commission is followed.
- Number of local boards – Change the total number of local boards to a range of 14 – 20 (currently the range is 20 – 30).
- Multi-member wards – Limit the number of councillors per ward to 1 if the voting system if FPP.
- Multi-member wards – Limited the number of councillors per ward to 2 if the voting system is STV.
- Local Government Commission – Ensure that public consultation over its determinations (including the number of local boards, and boundaries) is mandatory.
- Review – Introduce a review of the governance arrangement after 5 years.
- Council Assets – Introduce provisions that protect assets from sale.
- Staff Transition – Introduce provisions to protect staff over the transition period. It will call for a code of practice to drawn up.
- Performance Auditor – Introduce provisions giving effect to Royal Commission recommendation to adopt a performance auditor.
- Social Issues Board – Introduce provisions giving effect to Royal Commission recommendation for a Social Issues Board.
- The establishment of a Pacific Advisory Board
- The establishment of an Asian Advisory Board.
- The establishment of a Youth Council.
We will be supporting Green Party amendments that:
- increase the minimum membership of Local Boards from 4 to 11.
- change the voting system from FPP to STV.
- substitute the Mayors power to appoint the deputy mayor and committee chairs for a power of nomination.
And a Maori Party amendment thatestablishes two Maori members on the Auckland Council to be elected by Maori electors.
Noun 1. shemozzle – (Yiddish) a confused situation or affair; a mess
It’s a good description of the rushed, half-baked process Rodney Hide and John Carter have run over the past few months. It has left Aucklanders feeling distinctly uneasy: no consultation on the findings of the Royal Commission, first bill pushed through under urgency, Aucklanders’ right to a referendum legislated away, a compressed select committee process.
So far three big climb-downs (presumably as a result of the rush):
- toothless local boards – junked
- councillors elected at large – junked, but multi-member wards are a similar thing through the back door
- today’s coup de grace: an 11th hour U-turn on the northern boundary. Instead of cutting Rodney in half now it’s all in.
And still so much that is wrong with it. More detail here.
The Bill is back in the House tomorrow and the Government is, wait for it…going to push it through under urgency. Two bills on the biggest constitutional change to our system of government since the introduction of MMP, and they ram them both through under urgency.
If you want to follow the debate on Parliament TV, it is likely to be first up after Question Time tomorrow/Tuesday (sometime after 3pm).