Auckland

Does anyone else think that Brian Gaynor banging on about transparency is a sick joke?

Brian Gaynor still has column in the NZ Herald, despite his company being under investigation for manipulating markets, and despite the Guardians of the Superfund pulling their warrant, for want of a better term.

The Herald seems to think his columns are just fine, and NZME. thinks his continued pushing of Kiwisaver ads on NewstalkZB is fine to.

Today’s column though is just taking the piss. He is banging on about transparency.

One of the major issues raised by the Ports of Auckland wharf expansion controversy is whether Auckland ratepayers have greater transparency and more influence over the company than they did when it was listed on the NZX.

Similar transparency and influence issues can be raised regarding Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power, all NZX listed and more than 50 per cent owned by the Crown.

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Rock stars we are

The New Zealand economy is still a rock star, according to Paul Bloxham, the man who originally coined the phrase.

In a New Zealand economics comment, Mr Bloxham, the chief economist for HSBC Bank Australia, said despite lower dairy prices and lower growth in its major trading partners, New Zealand’s economy continued to be supported by a construction boom and the story had further to run.

As a result, interest rates were at high levels when compared with the rest of the developed world and the currency was high.

The New Zealand dollar was nearing parity against the Australian dollar for the first time in 42 years. Some early signs of domestic price pressures picking up suggested the New Zealand Reserve Bank was unlikely to cut rates this year, in contrast to current market pricing, he said.

Mr Bloxham said there were a range of indicators showing the New Zealand economy was still booming.

The broadest economic indicator of gross domestic product, or GDP, showed growth was broad based across industries with 15 of 16 sectors showing expansion over 2014. Overall GDP was running at a well above annual trend of 3.5%. The more timely indicators confirmed the strength had continued into 2015. Read more »

Ratepayers Alliance to take on the Auckland Council

A new ratepayer group, the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, has been established to hold Len Brown’s council to account.

Rate hikes, proposed new taxes and a culture of wasteful spending has led a group of concerned citizens to form the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance which begins operations from today.

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says, “Our purpose is to hold Auckland Council to account. With 130 spin-doctors the Council is very good at sidelining the concerns of neighbourhood ratepayer groups. By combining forces, this new group will shine the light on those wasting ratepayers’ money.”

“Aucklanders who are sick and tired of the Council wasting ratepayer money are invited to join us.”

It sounds as though the Ratepayers Alliance is keen to unite the neighbourhood groups throughout Auckland and gear them up ready to take on the council rather than having their voices lost in the suburbs.

This could be quite a headache for Len Brown or any other “independent” Labour Party mayor that might be at the reins.

Auckland Board Member of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, Gabrielle O’Brien, says, “Traditionally it’s been the business and property groups that have stuck up for fiscal responsibility within Auckland’s local government. Unfortunately most Auckland business groups are now heavily reliant on ratepayer money and find it difficult to bite the Council hand that feeds them.”

All modern socialists know that the best way to get business on side is by throwing around freebies and funding. Auckland Council has basically taken over the EMA, Business NZ and Property Council by charging it back to taxpayers or ratepayers.

“With rates digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of Aucklanders, residents need an organisation that gives a collective strength to their voice. The Taxpayers’ Union has assisted in establishing the Ratepayers’ Alliance to ensure that Auckland has a dedicated organisation holding the Mayor, his Council, and officials to account.”

A ratepayer group that won’t be swayed by local government handouts?

Auckland Council will be in crisis mode.

All power to them, I think I’ll become a member.

Len Brown positive about Auckland housing market going backwards at a slightly slower pace

Halfway through Auckland’s Housing Accord, housing targets are being met, but an increase in the region’s population has resulted in a deficit of thousands of properties.

In September 2013, the Government and council agreed to the accord with a target of consenting 39,000 new homes over three years.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown told TV3’s The Nation that “good progress” had been made.

“Not great or outstanding progress, but very good progress in terms of lifting that supply.”

New apartments accounted for 40 per cent of consents applied for in the first quarter of this year, he said.

“And we’re seeing that build going on in Auckland at around our metro centres with some real pace.

“So I’m not as pessimistic as that, I’m optimistic for the fact that the Auckland construction industry is building to this demand.”

But property investor and developer David Whitburn from Fuzo Property told The Nation the situation had got worse.

“Even with that housing accord there we haven’t seen that many houses built yet, there’s been a number of infrastructure challenges.”

There was really strong demand for houses, fuelled by a growing number of migrants to the city, he said.

All the Housing Accord did was clear some obstacles in the consent process.  But then we saw the other day that only a 130-something affordable properties were completed…. in total.  In the mean time, Auckland continues to be flooded with new migrants.

Auckland as a whole is sliding backwards with demand increasing and supply not even keeping the backlog in place.

But, according to Len we’re going backwards slower now, and thats…

good progress… Not great or outstanding progress, but very good progress in terms of lifting that supply

Lifting supply?  Where are the houses Len?  Actual houses?

 

– NZ Herald

Auckland Council and the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance

Some of you might have seen the recent opinion piece in the NBR by Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers Union. Williams spells out the shambles that is Auckland Council and drops a few hints.

Broken promises, eye watering rate hikes, 8500 staff, 130 spin doctors, diplomats in London, $200,000 penis art, $100,000 silk curtains, fashion consultants for finance staff, cut library hours and no berm mowing. Is this is SuperCity we hoped for?

What went wrong with Rodney Hide’s creature of efficient governance and local democracy? Auckland Council is case in point supporting the economic literature that suggests that local government suffers from diseconomies of scale once a council gets larger than around 250,000 residents. It is little wonder that Auckland Council is greater than the sum of its former parts.

In 2013, David Farrar and I established the Taxpayers’ Union to fight against government waste and argue for lower taxes. We could not have envisioned how much time and effort Auckland Council would consume.

Well even I didn’t expect Len Brown to build personal bathrooms and gyms.

Our staff and volunteers battle with the council’s corporatised spin machine every day. Its 130 communications staff habitually ignore information requests, leak requested material to handpicked media (in order to control a story) and bend over backward to protect the Mayor and his deputy.

Combine that with a weak Ombudsman to oversee the applicable freedom of information laws, it is little wonder that so many Aucklanders become frustrated trying to hold the council to account.

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Auckland Council replace fool with train conductor

If you thought for a while that Auckland Council has been run by drunken monkeys you’d be right.

The head monkey for planning has been Dr Roger Blakely who is principle architect for the Unitary Plan.

Auckland Council has now announced that it has appointed KiwiRail’s first chief executive, Jim Quinn, to the new council role of chief of strategy, replacing chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakely.

Council chief executive Stephen Town said simply of Dr Blakeley’s departure, that he had completed his fixed term, which began with the creation of the super-city council in November 2010.

Mr Quinn led the integration of New Zealand’s rail assets in KiwiRail’s first 5 years through to February 2014 and created the plan to turn the business around.

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More pork pies being sold by Mayor

The Mayor continues to tell porkies about what he knew regarding the Ports wharves and reclamation fiasco.

Only on Sunday the POAL CEO called Len Brown out for being a liar – stating that Len knew the whole time.

Now Lenny’s digging his hole deeper.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has conceded the first he knew about two wharf extensions at the Ports of Auckland was from the Herald.

Mr Brown had previously indicated he knew about the finger wharves at Bledisloe Wharf before the Herald broke the story on February 11.   Read more »

Despite warnings from Auditor General Auckland Council commits millions in loans for Len’s train set

Despite warnings from the Auditor General about staying works before having the means to pay for the rest of the Rail Tunnel – Auckland Council is about to start works down the bottom of town.

Big traffic and public transport challenges face downtown Auckland from construction starting in less than a year for the $2.5 billion underground railway to Mt Eden.

Auckland Transport disclosed yesterday that it hopes to start digging trenches across lower Queen St in January, meaning rerouting buses such as the Northern Express fleet.

That is expected to require the relocation of 16 bus stops.

The council body also expects to close the main entrance to Britomart Station, through the old Central Post Office, for about three years from March.

Temporary ticketing machines and gates will be installed at the eastern end of the station to cope with peak crowds of about 4000 passengers an hour.

Albert St, one of the main bus feeder routes into downtown Auckland, faces some disruption from October as a stormwater main is moved to make way for a pair of “cut and cover” rail tunnels to be dug from Britomart as far as Wyndham St in a package of early works likely to cost about $250 million.    Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Flora MacKenzie

Flora MacKenzie

Famous Flora’s Massage Parlour

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Len Brown says one thing, Ports boss says he’s lyin’, I think we know who to believe

Len Brown went on Q+A yesterday and was in spin overdrive, just a few minutes later the Ports of Auckland boss calls him out as a liar.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has stepped up a war of words with Ports of Auckland, accusing port bosses of keeping the council in the dark about two huge wharf extensions.

Speaking on Television New Zealand’s Q+A programme yesterday, Mr Brown said the port company had acted outside its statement of intent by not holding discussions with the council about planned spending on the port’s footprint.

Mr Brown, who has previously argued the council was powerless to stop the wharf extensions and direct the port company how to run its business, gave the strongest hint yet that he now opposes port expansion.

“I’m with most Aucklanders. I know that there’s absolutely a limit that we have to draw around the port in terms of how far the port can go into the harbour,” he said yesterday.

Port chief executive Tony Gibson, who appeared on the same programme, said Mr Brown’s claims about not holding discussions were not true.

He said the wharf extensions were a “non-notifiable issue” and the real issue was around reclamation.

The port company has said it plans to reclaim 3ha of seabed between the wharf extensions over time.

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