The Maritime Union has responded to claims by the Mayor of Auckland’s office the Union is engaged in “unfounded scaremongering” about the proposed sale of the Port of Auckland.
The Maritime Union released a new report last week which estimated privatisation would result in a minimum of NZ$70 million in extra costs to port users annually.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the Union is standing by its calculations that privatisation of operations at Ports of Auckland will hit local port users hard, and flow into further cost of living stress for the public.
He says if the Mayor’s office does not agree with the figures, it should release the figures it is working with.
Mr Harrison says the Mayor has commissioned Australian consultants Flagstaff at great expense to work on the proposed sale, so their findings should be made public.
He queried the Mayor’s Office statement to media that “the port […] did not have a mandate to subsidise importers with artificially low charges.”
Mr Harrison says there is no evidence of any artificially low charges currently, but “artificially high charges” would result if the monopoly Port was privatised.
The statement from the Mayoral Office also stated “the Mayor and councillors” wanted to see increased charges for port activity to generate “improved returns.”
Mr Harrison says the above statement confirms fears that port privatisation would hit Aucklanders hard.
“If these improved returns are going to a global port operator, how does this help local port users and consumers who will be paying for their monopoly returns?”
He says privatised port operations in Australia have seen surcharges of over AU$100 per container imposed on port users, who have no other options.
The new report is entitled “The costs and risks of privatising operations at the Ports of Auckland” and was commissioned by the Maritime Union. It draws on international research including the experience of Australian ports in recent years.
Auckland Council is reviewing options to sell an operating lease for the Port of Auckland to a global network terminal operator, and has commissioned consultants Flagstaff to seek expressions of interest.