Despite the rhetoric, one of the biggest disappointments about the Auckland plan was in the area of Transport. Seemingly unwilling to say no to anyone, the Council included in it almost every single transport project ever conceived, effectively creating a massive, and expensive wish list. The mainstream media, the government and others would have you believe that the council under Len Brown was planning to spend up large on public transport but nothing could be further from the truth.

The plan proposed spending over $30 billion of new capital expenditure for transport alone and a similar amount on top of that for operating/maintenance costs. As we saw in the an early view of the Integrated Transport Programme, which was shaped by the Auckland Plan, from being a revolutionary focus on public transport, over 70% of new spending is going on roads. Sure that may be a better split than what has we have seen in the past, but it’s hardly revolutionary. One of the biggest supporters of this scheme is unsurprisingly the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development (NZCID), a lobby group for the infrastructure construction, and finance industry.

ITP Major Project Costs

The biggest problem is that based on current funding, there simply isn’t enough funding to pay for this wish list with estimates suggesting that we will be $10-15 billion short. This led the council to start thinking about alternative ways to raise funds to pay for these projects with a list being identified for further investigation:

  • general rates
  • targeted rates
  • development contributions
  • tax increment financing
  • regional fuel tax and road user charge/diesel levy
  • tolling new roads
  • road pricing on existing roads (i.e. some form of network charging or congestion charging)
  • additional car parking charges
  • visitor taxes
  • airport departure tax

Following on from that the council created what they called the Consensus Building Group. It was formed by representatives of a range of organisations and groups and tasked with coming up with some agreement on the way forward. We still don’t know exactly what they have been looking at, what if anything has been agreed. About all we do know is that despite initially agreeing to be involved, government agencies decided to boycott the process (although I believe some may have become involved later on). It does appear that things are getting a bit closer though as the council put out this press release yesterday suggesting that if we don’t invest, transport problems, like we experienced a few weeks ago, will only get worse.

The most interesting part is that a discussion document will be coming out at the end of next month with more info however in advance of that, a website has been created to discuss more about it.

While it is pretty, it’s not a very user friendly site for those trying to access it on mobile devices, perhaps best to leave it till you are using a more traditional device. As you scroll, and scroll, and scroll, and scroll, the page attempts to explain the problem. If you make it to the end, you are presented with a survey that amongst other things wants to know what you the focus of transport spending should be.

CBG Survey
No I haven’t selected anything, this is just how it defaults

While it is good that we may be coming closer to having a consensus on transport funding, one thing still really bugs me about this entire process. The is still yet to be any debate as to the need of projects. Do we need all of the projects on the massive wish list or can we cull it down? Are there options for us to reduce the scope of some projects? e.g. Operation Lifesaver and improved local road links could cut back dramatically the amount that is proposed to be spent on Puhoi to Wellsford or the East West Link while still delivering most of the benefits.

I think that there is potential for billions of dollars of expenditure to be slashed off the wish list and that would dramatically change the debate. Instead of needing $400 million extra in spending each year, we might only need $50 million, or perhaps nothing extra at all. By not first culling and prioritising the list, we end up short changing the debate and potentially discounting options that would otherwise be realistic. For example if we know we need $400m per year then we are likely going to ignore an easy to implement option that only provides $20m in extra tax. Yet if it turned out we only need an extra $15m per year then that option might have been a more legitimate choice.

Whether you agree with me or not, go though and have your say on how any extra money should be raised and where it should be spent.

Note: I also predict that we will hear a lot more from the CEO of the NZCID, Steven Selwood telling us just how much we need every single one of the projects on the list, and possibly more.

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  1. Yeah what an idiotic process. Trying to convince Aucklanders to accept extra taxes for a package of transport projects which I don’t think anyone agrees are all required.

    Good luck!

  2. It’s easy to wipe 12 billion off those lists: including Avondale- Onehunga rail, Airport eastern link, but especially; the road Harbour Crossing, Puford, SH1/18 flyovers, those two vast parallel arterials either side of SH 1 in South Auckland. And then given that a bunch are already underway; WRR, AMETI, Rail Depot, it would seem that the easiest and possibly the best solution to balancing the books is the old way of just buying less.

    But this will only work if we use the existing budget way more wisely than we have for 60 years. We have to deliberately invest in order to reduce auto-dependency, we have to understand and accept that investing in car infrastructure exacerbates the problem and must be seriously limited and targeted. Investment must instead be focused on build the viable alternative to auto-dependency, with urgency. And this is practically possible, how to go about it politically is an interesting question….?

  3. One question I have which is sort of related goes back to the regional fuel tax. If you remember back in the day the plan was to charge Auckland 10c/l in fuel which was going to pay for a handful of projects.

    The government scrapped that and did their own nation wide one to fund the RoNS. However, now that we have seen a number of RoNS come in notably cheaper we have still seen the fuel tax go up due to lower than predicted fuel sales.

    So the question is, if we had gone for a regional fuel tax what would it need to be in order to makeup for the shortfall.

    1. Well, it was going to start off less than that,and only possibly increase to 9.5c. This from 2009:

      Auckland’s regional fuel tax was to begin on July 1 at 2c a litre, and increase to 9.5c a litre by 2011.

      The national fuel tax, approved last year, will increase prices by 1.5c a litre each year until 2012.

      The national tax increase was set up by the Labour Government to fund public transport development.

      From the 9.5c regional fuel tax, 8c was earmarked for Auckland’s rail network, 1c for the Penlink project, which joins the Whangaparaoa Peninsula with State Highway 1 at Redvale, and 0.5c for Auckland ferry terminals and integrated ticketing.

      That 1.5c national fuel tax increase is a bit of a joke now, with 3c a litre increases every year for the next 3 years, due to RoNS.

    2. That increase is not due to the RoNS however, as I said above, it is due to lower than expected fuel sales most notably in Auckland. If we had gone with the regional fuel tax it could very well have increased to 20c/l by now.

      I always said that fuel tax to fund PT was self defeating and this goes some way to show it.

      1. I s’pose you’d argue that putting increased taxes on fags to discourage smokers would be self defeating as well?
        Or is that a different case? And if so please explain how so?

      2. Well yes that is a different case, the tax on fags is not used to give money to people who don’t smoke but more to cover the costs of those who do. So they less people that smoke the less money you need to cover them, unlike fuel tax where the less fuel people by the more you need to charge.

        So although the carrot and the stick saying is try, the carrot does not need ever increasing amounts of stick.

        1. Not at all because the vast majority of these funds go to expanding road space and this won’t be necessary if a significant proportion reduce their driving. Hell, it’s not even necessary now, as it doesn’t do what it sold as doing- reducing congestion.

        2. What? I think it’s rather obvious that a large portion of the tax that was specifically added to pay for the RoNS is paying for the RoNS. Why do you feel the need to point out such an obvious fact?

          Interesting to know however that the projects the plan to build over the next 10 years won’t reduce congestion. I’m interested to know how you know this however, is this what the traffic models say or have you been to the year 2035 and seen the results?

          Anyway, this still goes no way towards your argument that fuel tax is not a self defeating, or self depleating, funding source.

        3. I am quite sure it is depleting because driving is loosing its appeal. I’m not arguing with that I’m just pointing out that raising fuel tax and increasing funding of Transit infrastructure is a good idea, regardless of gradual decline in fuel volumes. Which is of it self a good thing.

          Why am I sure that building more roads isn’t reducing congestion? Because it has never been observed to in an urban area of consequence yet. More roads, especially in the context of a failure to invest in alternatives, simply promotes driving, especially at peaks. More events like last week’s snafu are coming to Auckland more often. Not only inspite of Te RoNS, but because of them.

          Sure individual roads will flow better for a while but the whole system just suffers more from lack of alternatives to driving (the only way to improve congestion is to make not driving more attractive).

        4. Ok your obviously not getting this so let’s try it again.

          Lets say you have 10 people, 9 of these drive and 1 of them takes PT. Each person that drives pays 5 tax, those that take PT pay one tax unit and use 2 tax units from the global pool. So right now we have 50 tax units going into the pool with 2 coming out leaving 48 to spend on upgrades.

          Now if we change it so 5 drive and 5 take PT what happens. We get 25 tax units from cars, 5 from PT but then we also lose 10 tax units do we get left with only 20 for upgrades.

          If we carry on from above but find we only get 4 tax units from cars what happens. Well then we get left with 15 for upgrades.

          Now the issue here is that you planned you big line of projects on collecting 45 tax units, but now your only get 15 how do you plan to makeup for the shortfall?

        5. Regarding your claim about congestion you could say the same about houses. It seems we spend millions every year building houses but it seems each time we build one someone moves into it. By your logic we need to stop building houses and look for alternatives like having people sleeping under their desks.

          I know my example sounds stupid but then so is the argument that people will stop taking trips or the population will stop growing if we stopped upgrading the transport network.

        6. Yes exactly like that, we need to stop building (only) houses and start building more terraces, flats and apartments.

          The difference is that we rightly know that if you build more houses in a congested market that more people will move into them.

          However the powers that be claim that if they build more roads in a congested network, there will be no more traffic, just the same amount of traffic spread over a wider area.

        7. Who are those powers that be you talk of, its certainly not the way we do highway engineering in New Zealand.

          Granted SH20 to 1 however, I don’t know the story behind that.

        8. Have you never seen the travel time savings calculated for a new or widened highway? They are the core benefits calculated by NZTA. Those only work if you assume no change in traffic growth patterns in response to the new infrastructure.

        9. I certainly have and that’s how I know they take account of induced demand.

          Pretty much every project you look at will have different traffic volumes for the different options including the base case at the target year. The reason they get these different volumes is that the models know that when congestion is reduced demand increases.

          Of course if it were really the way you guys talk you should be happy. As you say driving is losing its appeal and so once these projects are complete driving will be a dream in Auckland. We won’t even need to worry about busways and buslanes as there will be so much space on the roads and so little congestion.

        10. Actually Dan, tax on cigarettes is given to non-smokers. An average smoker costs the government less than a non-smoker in health care and aged care because they die so much earlier. The tax really is just a big stick.

          And, that is exactly the way we do transport engineering here. We completely ignore demand induction.

        11. Not so, the burden smokers put on the health system and society is still not covered by the tax collected. So no it is not handed out to non-smokers.

          Also I work in transport engineering on large transport projects and I know what we do. And one of those things is not ignoring induced demand.

        12. But isn’t the point that Transit is not ‘other users’ NZTA’s own guidelines value the benefit of each peak journey on the rail network at around $17 for road users, in addition to the value to the train user themselves. So this is an artificial division: the benefits of investment in Transit accrue to all citizens, and done well, even to people who hardly move at all.

        13. Can you rephrase your statement please, I don’t have a clue as to what you were trying to say.

        14. Sailor Boy, dying young does not save the govt money, it costs because all the sunk in childhood and loss of taxes. The cost to healthcare of smokers is higher as they are sicker than normal folks (normal folks have a long healthy period then cost a lot when they get sick and die where smokers have a much shorter healthy period then similarly get sick and die).

          That said, smokers are pretty much paying their way now and increases in tax are aimed at reducing their smoking for their own good.

        15. Dan you are wrong. I have had lengthy debates on this with population health students. Smokers cost less in healthcare. They don’t get slow acting cancer, they don’t have long term heart disease, they don’t get parkinson’s they don’t use aged care. They conveniently tend to die shortly after retirement meaning that they live life only in the age range where mean annual tax increases.
          Then you can add the tax on cogarettes on top. I’ll try find you some science.

        16. OK, this article points out health care costs of smokers. The estimated cost of smoking to the healthcare budget (in 2007) was $300m to $350m. So not a saving. Overall costs are estimated at $1.9b but this is controversial. Current tobacco tax take is about $1.5b. That is why I said things are about even now. Main point, though, is that smoking produces a cost to health care.

        17. You are commiting the fallacy of equivocation, twice.
          Health costs for smoking related illnesses are $1.9B/annum, income is $1.5B/annum from smoking related tax.
          That is what you reported but not what you meant.
          You forgot that the smoking related illnesses kill smokers young, this SAVES the government money in paying healthcare for non-smoking related illnesses in smokers, as well as aged care and pensions.
          Starting to make sense?

        18. 1. The MoH $1.9b number is entirely wrong. Ask the right people at MoH and they’ll admit as much. The figure assumes that those who die from smoking at age 55 would never have otherwise imposed costs on the MoH at 65.
          2. ASH/SFC, anti-smoking lobby groups, commissioned a study a few years ago that wound up showing that smokers cost MoH about $350m. Tobacco excise was three times that at the time. They added in a bunch of other costs they called social, but really are borne by smokers, to get a big number. But the actual “cost to the government” figure seemed likely right. And it didn’t even count savings on superannuation.

  4. At least it’s some attempt to canvass opinion, I guess. However the whole tone of the site – the copy and the images – supports this ongoing narrative that because the population is going to grow we need to build more stuff and so what’s it to be – roads, rail, buses etc. Of course to an extent that is true, we need better transport, but this disassociation from the way we build our urban communities is the core problem in the approach and thinking. The fact is, if we built proper communities we’d probably look at our existing roading network as oversupply, in other words, if we shape a city that gives people reasons to truly live locally, transport demand drops. Creating that drop in demand should be our first priority.

  5. Whats lacking in this list is:
    (a) priority order of projects e.g. you should do project A before B and C
    (b) dependant ordering e.g. can’t/don’t start project X until Project Y is done

    If you had that information in this list then you see that if you spent your $15 or so billion, in the right order, where you would end up when the money runs out, and whats in the nice to have list (the unfunded stuff at the bottom) and you could then interweave the projects around the money available in each year to maximise the outcomes.

    Of course, everyone wants their projects funded, and done ASAP but the reality is that its not going to happen especially as this list is the proverbial laundry list of stuff to do.

    And more to the point, spending on big a few massive RoNS does really distort the whole process – and to use a old Project Managers saying about that:
    “Bearing a child takes 9 months, no matter how many women are assigned to the task”.

    Or to paraphrase – building a RoNS takes at least 3 years no matter how many billions are allocated.

    So some of the big spending here e.g. RoNS, can’t actually spend the money as fast as the Gov’t would like (constraints on supply of Road Workers and equipment to do the jobs being obvious constraints here)
    – so that leaves money to spare for interim projects to fill in the gaps and deliver interim benefits sooner.

    1. Greg that’s a good point- the CRL for example is not a quick build, in fact there is value in building the tunnel itself and Aotea Station as one one project then moving a smaller team progressively on to K’Rd then Newton Stations in order to spread the spending and the skills demand. We have discussed this with engineers and it is viable to run the line while those two deep stations are being built after the initial dig and tunnel completion. The demand on the budget will be spread over many years and therefore not create a hugely sudden and disruptive drain on funds. Of course the benefits won’t begin until it is operating, at least in part, except to the construction and design sectors, as is the case with all big projects like these.

      Which raises another point, as someone who sees little ongoing value in the RoNS project, or at least nothing like the wildly optimistic claims of its architect, it seems likely that the period of their greatest positive economic impact is now, ie during construction. This is really just a stimulus package for the highway construction sector. Even the VPT, which I was not against, or in fact I wanted them to do properly and underground both directions, seems simply to have incentivised some people off the buses and back into their cars, with the inevitable impact on the whole city that this leads to. This is not a productivity gain for Auckland’s economy, more driving should be no ones aim if it is prosperity that we are are seeking…..

        1. Well it was also cheaper and they have no mechanisms for pricing negative externalities like having a vile great motorway viaduct through one of the two only urban parks of scale.

        2. It was cheaper (not half price), and I’m sure the NZTA put it to Auckland City Council like this:

          “We (NZTA) will pay for a one way tunnel at $400m, or build both tunnels for $650m – if you pay the difference between it and the $400m figure”.

          Of course Auckland City looked at grotty old Grafton Park, said hmm, its not worth $250m to ratepayers fix it up and make it usable. So they said “No thanks”..
          But its a park and who cares if it has reduced amentity, and the City can always buy a lot more parks further out for that $250m not spent right?

          And as you say theres no accounting for the impact of having a monstrous carbuncle that is the motorway viaduct through the heart of the city.

          Of course, if the park was a development site, and the value of the land would probably treble if the motorway was underneath,
          And then it’d be a done deal by next Thursday lunchtime to put the tunnel option for both lanes through.
          But otherwise, not going to happen.

        3. Technically there would be three as the domain is counted, but I agree, the viaducts are hideous and the removal is one of few positives of the AWHC

        4. I understand if you’re not counting Myers Park, but what did Western Park do to be left out?

          Anyway, yes – the motorway viaduct is horrible and if we can get rid of the flyover without replacing it we should do so. But it’s not bad enough to be worth spending $250m to make a tunnel to replace it, when there are a lot of other things we could do with the money.

        5. I recall once you factored in the remedial works required to extend the life of the viaduct, the difference was only some $30 million. Anyone got a source for the exact figure?

        6. I think the climb out of the tunnel on the southbound lanes (VPT) was a bigger factor than cost from memory.

      1. I agree with Patrick that the list really just looks like a stimulus package for the highway construction sector. But what about the $30bn stimulus package that weve all been waiting to start happening in Canterbury? Is this a subtle admission that the insurers are going to continue the moratorium on insuring Canterbury indefinitely so the insurance payouts to property investors will have to be spent buying existing commercial buildings in other cities? If so then the Ruthenasing of Christchurch makes it urgent to sort out the Auckland funding solution or at least to acknowledge the billion dollar payment from Canterbury towards North Island RoNS anticipated in the current ten year NLTP. That transfer will now not be merely in dollars, now the people will be personally delivering those dollars so the extra funding provided by relocating Chch to Auckland (or Wellington, Hamilton, etc) is now going to come at a cost of extra traffic growth.

        On the other hand, if the local insurance industry is actually going to insure the rebuild then this Auckland stimulus package is going to have to be scaled back to avoid overstimulating the constuction sector which would just result in construction price inflation driving prices up until the current phisical capacity of the construction industry can absorb all of the increased supply of construction funds.

        The entire rationale of the RoNS progressively building outwards from major cities was tried in the 1920s/30s and abandoned in favour of the BCR “bang for bucks” approach in the 1950s-70s. If that change hadn’t been made most of the roads north of Auckland would still be impassable in wet weather, with obvious consequences for international tourism.

        1. How long before we have an insurance moratorium imposed on Auckland on the basis of ongoing seismic activity occurring there?

  6. Insurance moratoria are standard industry practice after damaging quakes but they usually only last 3 months since the big aftershock usually happens within that time frame. The unexpected December2011 shake seems to have put reinsurers on the knife edge of walking away from NZ entirely despite the huge de-risking exercise that has cost taxpayers up to $1bn.

    Unless the Motutapu quakes are a precursor of a larger rupture on the Motutapu/Wairoa North/Drury or Firth of Thames fault sequences then you can probably rest easy that there are too many insurance execs with huge mortgages in Ak to allow a moratorium in Ak even after the recent catastrophic events – I presume birdsnests are covered by EQC?

    1. “I presume birdsnests are covered by EQC?”
      Only if they had at least Fire insurance on the nest, and contents insurance on the eggs and any fledgings inside it.

  7. I looked at the source code of and saw that these paragraphs have been commented out – that is, made to not appear in the web browser. They were meant to appear after the “additional funding tools” section.

    “One example is a road pricing scheme, like the central London congestion charge introduced in 2003. The immediate result was 33% fewer car trips and faster network speeds. When Stockholm introduced a similar pricing scheme in 2006, it achieved 25% fewer car trips and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases.”
    “Road pricing can work successfully, so long as it directly addresses a problem and has visible benefits for users. New Zealand’s first electronic road toll system has been trialled in Auckland. The Northern Gateway opened in 2009.”
    “Construction was accelerated by charging for its use, and a survey showed three-quarters of motorists chose to travel on it rather than the free alternative. This user-pays option is now being extended to Tauranga’s Eastern Link, currently under construction.”
    Perhaps they wanted to emphasise road pricing but thought better of it after some focus group testing found that the audience did not receive it well?

  8. The Auckland Plan seems to be confused about its own scope. Understandably, it’s probably due to how recent the creation of the super city was. If you look at the first line of Section A-1 Introduction it says “The Auckland Plan is the Strategy…”. Ok, is it a plan or a strategy? It seem to flick between the two and in transport in particular it veers wildly into being a plan. The problem is that it raises all the questions noted by others’ comments above. What substantiated the decision to choose these projects? Why are they the right ones? In what order do they happen? These are questions for a plan, not a strategy. Sure, if the Auckland Plan wants to answer these questions for transport it’s perfectly welcome to, but it doesn’t for any of the other topics covered like the Environment where they even say that in para 465 that they will consult on what’s to be done. The objective for a strategy like this is should be size the problem, articulate some goals and come up with a method for directing future activity. And build confidence that its affordable. Instead it’s just another way for transport to be politicised so it gets written off as a wishlist. There’s a reason why there are professionals who think about planning and prioritisation, and why politicians should stay out of the prioritisation of transportation infrastructure. Because now we’re all locked into a bunch of projects which might not meet the needs of future generations. The most frustrating part is that its much harder to take a project out of a plan (or strategy) than it is to put one in.

    1. Think of the Spatial Plan/Auckland Plan as as a Guidance or reference document. This is how I see it I have no problem calling it a strategic plan either. How the document is written is consistent to the few examples I have seen of other cities where it reads more like a legal document or a code of standards book. How the projects got on there is based on alot of reports and consultation, I remember the AKT blog used to have posts all the time of various reports and given the timeframe to complete this Plan many people praised the council on actually managing submissions and hearings to put together the document. Personally I don’t think a better plan could be compiled if more time was given, the first year some were complaining of too much reports, forums, disscussion panels, meetings. Some don’t recognise Len Brown started the process of the Auckland Plan early before the council was sworn in and good thing he did and he recognised he had to.

      1. Can you give me an example of another strategy document or plan produced by a political organisation that gives lists of specific transport projects? Wait, let me give one answer before you go googling. The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding. I’m sure they consulted extensively on that, and produced it under super-short time frames too. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they were working on it before they were sworn in.

        1. Agreed. Admittedly I’m being a bit whimsical but glad you get my point. Politicians have a long and sordid history of promising white elephants in return for votes. I expected more vision an less specificity from LB based on his rhetoric. If you read it carefully the AP puts the CRL on the same footing as the additional waitemata crossing (sans the rail no less) and the east west link.

        2. Yes and what does that suggest to you? It suggests political horse-trading to me. But then as LB has not got the gov to support the CRL it looks more like the horse trading was with local forces of motordom, or, it simply represents LB trying to be nice to that view in the hope that it will be reciprocated….? Ha! Or to put it another way, LB prides himself on being able to build consensus which makes him poor at saying no to ‘wants’ from all sides.

          Unfortunately for that approach it ain’t gonna work; we are not getting all those things.

          Fortunately it is important what is not built as well as what is. It just has to be the CRL and not the AHC [unless it is sans road crossing!].

  9. I’d rather not guess at LB’s intentions and just read the document he signed off on. It opens the door to the “local forces of motordom” (who?) and leaves a vacuum for the kinds of feasibility, prioritisation and funding arguments that all the commenters raise above (notwithstanding the random foray into reinsurance wtf). In any case it’s easier to build consensus by saying something like “we are going to build infrastructure necessary to support a compact city” than it is by saying “we are going to build A, B, C, D because we told you so”.

    Also, by listing a bunch of projects that any year 10 student could add up and see we can’t afford, the AP has just added fuel to the Len-is-just-another-tax-and-spend-lefty fire. There are tangible and transformational benefits from the CRL and it cheapens it to compare it to those other projects. And the AP should make that reasoning clear.

    1. Last I had a brief look at the AP I thought it had a timeline for projects? And who thinks LB is a “just-another-tax-and-spend-lefty”? I have followed his decisions in council (Manukau and now) and he as always based his decisions on fact and is able bring others on board with him.

    2. It’s politics, the Auckland plan an the ITP are ‘kitchen sink’ plans that include the wish list of every faction in council. You can bet bottom dollar there was some serious pressure from the MoT and NZTA to include all their grand schemes alongside the councils grand schemes.

    3. Traffic Engineer, There was no random foray into reinsurance intended. The fact is Auckland is part of the same nation as Christchurch. New Zealand doesn’t have enough construction resources to reconstruct Christchurch’s damaged infrastructure and CBD buildings at the same time as expanding Auckland’s infrastructure without creating serious construction price inflation. The need to rebuild 9 bridges, 1,000km of roads, build a new bus exchange and modify the arterial road network to accommodate rezoned industrial and residential land is going to require NZTA spending Christchurch petrol taxes in Christchurch. On the other hand if Christchurch is allowed to go the same way as Detroit then Auckland’s population growth will happen even faster than anticipated. These factors are all going to impact directly on the prioritisation and funding arguments for the Auckland Plan, especially because the $30bn of cash from foreign insurers and reinsurers is going to flood into the New Zealand economy, mostly in the next 5 years, irrespective whether or not that money is able to be spent on new buildings in Christchurch or ends up buying existing buildings in Auckland and elsewhere.

      Auckland politicians and planners can’t afford to take the ostrich approach to the Christchurch catastrophe because one way or another its their problem too and they need to be more realistic than they seem to have been so far.

      1. Kevyn, I agree, and this is yet another reason why the accelerated and panicky RoNS programme is a disaster; rushing to expensively build stuff that is impoverishingly uneconomic confounds those outcomes through construction inflation.

      2. Kevyn, you sound like an economist or financier, which I’m neither. I’ll defer to your superior expertise in money any day! I’ve never tried to wrap my head around finance and now’s not the time to start. My apologies for pressing reply on the wrong thread, that really confused things. Anyway, noones yet countered my original premise yet so I’ll continue to feel hard done by because politicians keep telling me how to do my job. Oh and what is the Ostrich approach? My google’s on the fritz.

        1. I’m an environmental planner so I have to understand the economic theories that commercial land users subscribe to.

          Soryy I must be showing my age a bit with the Ostrich reference. It used to be believed that Ostriches buried there heads in the sand when confronted with danger so it was common to refer to groups in denial as behiving like Ostriches.

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