February 27, 2024

Selling Port of Auckland would be “letting the vultures in”

The Maritime Union says ongoing uncertainty about the future of Port of Auckland is a threat to the economic stability of Auckland City and New Zealand.

The Mayor of Auckland is proposing two options – the sale of an operating lease of the Ports of Auckland (with proceeds going into a fund), or continued Council ownership of the Port with a gradual reduction in size.

The stated preferred option for the Mayor is privatisation – sale of a long term operating lease.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the Port of Auckland must remain in public ownership.

Mr Harrison says there is danger of massive price hikes on freight if Port of Auckland was privatised, as recently happened in Australian ports operated by global port conglomerate DP World.

“It will be worse than the chickens coming home to roost if we hand over the port to an outfit like this – it will be the vultures coming home to roost.”

Mr Harrison says there is currently no feasible alternative to the Port of Auckland, with other ports operating at capacity, and lack of infrastructure to move freight to Auckland from other ports.

He says it is not realistic to shrink the Port without having a plan in place as how the growing quantity of freight will be handled.

“Any major changes to port location or the supply chain would be a multi-billion dollar, decades long process, requiring central and local Government co-ordination, including coastal shipping and rail links.”

“Put simply, the current value of the Port of Auckland as a trade gateway for the country far outweighs its value to the Council as a one off cash injection.”

Mr Harrison says according to polling carried out for the Maritime Union, a strong majority of Aucklanders oppose any sale of the Port, and elected representatives would be held to account if they went against the will of the people.

“There is no doubt Auckland City faces difficult decisions, but the sale of the port is not a solution.”

“The best approach is to maintain a steady course for the Port of Auckland as a profitable strategic asset for the people of Auckland.”

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