Phil Goff won’t confirm he’ll sell the Ports of Auckland

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is refusing to say if he is devising a plan to privatise Ports of Auckland, which is valued at $1.1 billion.

The Herald understands an IPO, or initial public offering, of the port is being discussed in merchant banking circles. Newsroom has also suggested either a sale of the operating company or a part sale of the entire entity.

Goff would only say he has had wide-ranging discussions on Auckland’s port but no specific proposal on ownership has been presented to him.

In politician-speak, that is:  Yes.  Yes I am going to try and sell it.  

On the election hustings last year, Goff said he would not sell council’s 22 per cent shareholding in Auckland Airport but left open the door to sell the port business.

He said the 77ha of prime waterfront port land should be owned permanently by the people of Auckland and the port business should continue in council ownership, pending long-term decisions on the future of the port.

Since coming to office, Goff has struggled to find new revenue sources to fill a $4 billion funding hole for transport over the next decade and meet the needs of a rapidly growing city. Goff’s desire for a regional petrol tax has been ruled out by the Government and a proposed “bed tax” has been watered down with no guarantee of getting over the line in next month’s budget.

He can’t raise rates, the government will only fund infrastructure and his best mate Len left him with debts up to the eyeballs.

There are only two other ways to make money.   Sell assets or create income generating businesses.

Of course, selling income generating assets is where the whole problem becomes one of ideology.

If killing the golden goose gets you more eggs in the short term, it’s always tempting.


– Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald

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