Mark Thomas is right – people will be “living on Mars” before the port is moved

John Palino wants the port moved and provided some analysis on how that might be achieved. Vic Crone also wants it moved but has no idea how to move it, it’s just blocking her view. Phil Goff is just echoing what his corporate donors are saying.

Mark Thomas says that people will be living on Mars before the port is ever moved, and he’s right.

NBR reports:

Even if Auckland Council’s Port Future Study recommends moving Auckland’s downtown wharves, mayoral contender Mark Thomas says it will be pie in the sky.

Mr Thomas says people will be “living on Mars” before the port is moved as there are higher priorities for the city.

He says the port is a low priority for the thousands of Aucklanders he has spoken to during his campaigning.   

The Port Future Study is working toward its final July recommendations to the council that are understood to include three offshore sites off Manukau’s coast for a possible new port. They include a site just outside the Manukau bar, Hikihiki and Puhuini.

Three of the other mayoral contenders have called for the port to be moved for the growth and prosperity of the city.

John Palino wants the ports business sold and the port moved in a decade, Victoria Crone says it can’t keep up with the city’s growth and is obsolete while Phil Goff says the 75ha of prime central business district land it occupies could be producing a better return for the council.

Mr Thomas tells NBR Radio that Auckland is distracting itself with a debate that will take decades when there are more pressing issues such as rail, freight traffic on the roads and congestion.

He says the city has a long laundry list of projects that need doing but they have never been prioritised by mayor Len Brown or his councils and that has compounded the issue.

Mark Thomas is dead right on this and it isn’t often that you will find me agreeing with Mark Thomas.





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  • Terry

    “Mr Thomas tells NBR Radio that Auckland is distracting itself with a debate that will take decades when there are more pressing issues such as rail, freight traffic on the roads and congestion.”

    Mark, have you stopped to work out how much of those pressing issues of rail, freight traffic on the roads, and congestion are due to us having to put up with a container port so patently in the wrong place. If Manukau Harbour turns out to be too costly and difficult, then it has to be in the Firth of Thames, somewhere near Orere Point, (which has approach channels for the biggest, deepest ships planned) so that the present container port area can be transformed into a eastern residential/recreational twin of Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter, leaving space near the Ferry Buildings just for cruise liners and suchlike. Anyone who has done the study knows the limits to both Tauranga and Whangarei. While some worry about the rail lines and tunnels between Whangarei and Auckland, very few seem to have considered the extent of congestion of rail freight and passengers just northwest of Auckland.

    • Sailor Sam

      Has anybodty asked the locals at and near Orere Point.
      I bet they will not be so welcoming.
      And I am sure the Greens will find a very rare shellfish there.
      You cannot place a big port on the west coast, the seas are to big and then the access to the hinterland is not the best.
      The Manukau harbour is far to shallow and then there is the entrance bar to consider.

    • Blokeinauckland

      The tunnels could be daylighted to ease constraints on loads and the carrying capacity of the track increased if the decision was made. Marsden Point has over 200hectares of back up land ready to be turned to port purposes.

      The Navy would love to leave Devonport as they no longer have low cost housing for personnel nearby now it’s owned by Ngati Whatua and the wharves cannot take their bigger vessels. If they have to embark an amphibious force the queue is back to Takapuna.

      A regional development project would be to relocate the Navy to Marsden Point, along with the amphibious elements of the defense force. While you are about it put in a decent runway for the army and air force. Jobs for the locals. Job done.

  • OneTrack

    “..while Phil Goff says the 75ha of prime central business district land it occupies could be producing a better return for the council…”

    That’s nice Phil. Tell us how. And no expert committees to work out the details later.

  • KeepLeft_VoteRight

    It should go in the bay south of Duder Regional Park with a channel in front of Kawakawa Bay so the ships barely come into the inner gulf. If you look at the map it’s quite obvious that is where it should be and it’s currently just farmland. Best bit is the new railway/highway from Takanini/Pakaura surrounds out to the port would open up quite a chunk of greenfield land and it would encourage industry to move south among other spinoff benefits. While at it why not move the Navy to the same spot. Imagine the waterfront Auckland could have with a stadium, superyacht marina, cruise terminal, etc

  • contractor

    Heck I thought Thomas might be someone I could vote for until the closing remark above. Once again, who the heck do we vote for? No one at this rate.

  • Platinum Fox

    The port could be moved in stages with the first stage being to move the vehicle importing operation to a new location somewhere near Orere Point. That would reduce traffic in the central city and on the southern motorway by about 1700 truck and trailer movements (each way) per week. As I understand it, most imported vehicles are trucked from the port to distribution centres in South Auckland.
    Container and general freight operations could be relocated at a later date as relocation of the vehicle import operations would mean Bledisloe Wharf which has three container cranes (the last date I saw them used other than for training was 4 March 2015) would be available again for container operations.

  • Gladwin

    If I remember correctly 70% of imports only go a max of 30km radius from the existing port. To move it is folly. Crone is irresponsible and should move from her current accomodation. There is a great need for responsible people to carry out a study for the various port site alternatives. The status quo will easily win out. There is a great need for quality people to stand for local government and the current lot are clearly wanting.

  • Blokeinauckland

    Has it escaped Mark Thomas that the freight on the roads and rail is going to and from the port?

    The port’s 77 hectares would make a significant contribution to Auckland’s growth plans if developed in to commercial and mixed use. The high rises in Queen street when all the corporate tenants head to the waterfront could be converted to apartments.

    There is no need to move the port. It will fizzle and die because it is constrained land side and has no export growth options. Exports will more likely go out through ports close to the producers in Tauranga and Marsden Point.

    The port is in a sunset phase. They’d be better to face up to it and be part of the decision rather than try to pretend the port can grow. It can’t and won’t.

    The latest quarterly stats from MOT on containers show the port is losing share to Tauranga – it’s on it’s way out. This has been going on for some time.

    The dividend of $50 Miillion is not an adequate return for the business and it is bolstered by tax offsets from Watercare so it’s not a true reflection on the port’s actual performance. The port pays almost no rates for the land. If the land was turned to another purpose the rates each and every year (and not subject to competitive and commercial pressure) would dwarf the measly $50m dividend.

  • Wilbert

    Because of the size of current and future ships, there is only 3 possibilities
    Where it is, in Auckland

  • Anthony

    Mark is sounding like the most sensible candidate today.
    Cars could be moved to Marsden.
    Every other option discussed requires a lot of dredging, e.g. anywhere around the firth of thames.
    A site outside the Manukau bar would be a nightmare to maintain with the sands constantly shifting and rough seas. The Hikihiki bank would need huge amounts of dredging, Puhinui would also require a lot of dredging and both would require a huge amount of dredging through the Manukau bar. They’re just not feasible.

  • CoNZervative

    After a glass of Port I’m sure it was “Thomas Mark”?