It was revealed yesterday that in a departure from the past six years, there would be none of the Auckland Councillors will be on the Auckland Transport Board of Directors.

Auckland Transport spends more than $1 billion a year running the city’s roads and public transport network, and for the last two terms councillors Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee have been paid directors on the agency’s board.

Mr Goff said removing the councillors would improve accountability, but he would keep the roles open in case it did not work out.

“The feedback I have to date is that [having councillors on the board] has not been the strongest form of accountability,” he said.

At first blush this seems like a blow for accountability and transparency, especially given transport is by far the single biggest area of council spending. But as is often the case, if you look deeper into the issue it’s not so clear that this is a bad outcome. In this post I’ll look at a couple of these issues. To be clear this isn’t about the performance of the two councillors who have served on the board to date, Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee, but more the issues having councillors in the position creates.

The key argument for having Councillors on the AT board is to provide a more direct link between them and the Council’s governing body. In theory that sounds like a good idea but in practice it just doesn’t work – and that’s not the fault of the Councillors appointed. All board directors have the same collective and individual responsibilities regardless of whether they were appointed or are an elected member. That includes keeping confidential information confidential, particularly as some discussions and decisions can impact land prices. As such the Councillors on the AT Board can’t just go back and tell the Mayor or other Councillors what was discussed. A prime example of this happening came up at the beginning of last year when AT announced they were investigating light rail on the central isthmus. Apparently, the Mayor and Councillors were only told this piece of work had been happening shortly before AT told the public.

As I understand it, some elected members were quite annoyed they weren’t told earlier by their colleagues who sit on the AT Board but those two board member simply weren’t allowed to tell them without breaching their board responsibilities. What’s the point of having them there if the rules prevent them from reporting back to council.

One answer is that it could be to push the council’s agenda. But in cases like LRT, how could they know the council’s thoughts without telling them. Further Because all the important stuff is discussed behind closed doors, we also can’t tell if the Councillors are pushing the approved council agenda or their own personal views.

We’ve been lucky that for the first two terms, Len appointed Councillors who we know have played key roles in supporting the improvement of public transport in Auckland but he or a future mayor could have just as easily appointed someone who is on the other side of the PT supporting spectrum. In that regard having no Councillors on the AT Board and better use being made of the council’s toolkit for managing AT might be a better long term approach – I’ll cover that later in the post.

Another issue with having the Councillors on the board is it gives them multiple bites at the cherry that other Councillors don’t get an opportunity to do, and this goes both ways. In one situation, a Councillor might push a project/stance that the rest of the council votes against. They can then use their position on the AT Board to try again. One case I can remember this happening in was around the debate over mowing grass berms. After council’s governing body voted to stop funding it, Christine Fletcher tried unsuccessfully to get the AT Board to agree to do it. Going the other way, a current example is Mike Lee who disagrees with decision the AT Board he is part of made over airport rail and so wants the Council to overrule that decision.

In my view having Councillors on the board then creates odd situations when those same Councillors then criticise a decision made by AT that they were involved in making, or where AT are criticised for following a policy the board approved.

And AT’s Chairman Lester Levy says this in the article above.

The mayor is my boss

It’s good to have that nice and clear. He also says this about decisions

There are differences of opinions, yes, but there are differences of opinions between normally appointed members.

Of course, none of this is to say that AT should be left unaccountable to do their own thing. The opposite is true but the council have several ways they can improve the accountability of AT. The biggest thing they could do is taking a much greater interest in setting and holding AT to their annual Statement of Intent (SOI). The SOI is the document that lays out each year what AT should be focusing on and what their targets are. From what I see the SOI is far too often not bold enough and most Councillors just seem to rubber stamp it.

There also doesn’t appear to be any serious consequences for missing targets, such as for patronage. Nor are there any consequences for AT’s seeming continual disregard for various council plans and strategies like with the City Centre Master Plan vision for Victoria St that we’ve highlighted recently. The Council beefing up their oversight role would likely reap greater dividends than having Councillors on the board – each earning an extra ~$50k per annum for doing so.

Goff’s decision to re-evaluate the decision in a year’s time seems like a good solution. If it turns out AT start making even stupider decisions then some Councillors could always be added back again. What’s not clear is if the council will then appoint some directors on a one year term to make up the board numbers.

Six years in it feels like now is an appropriate time to shake things up to change how the organisation is run at both a board and management level to ensure we get better outcomes.

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  1. As stated in the post, the SOI should be the measure by which AT is judge upon. And if the CEO cannot reach those goals then the Council needs to replace him. Governments and Councils love to talk about the “business world” but that’s how it actually works in business. If the CEO is not delivering then he or she is replaced.

    1. yes I agree. It’s actually harder for the Council to hold AT accountable when two councillors sit on the Board. Better to have full separation where Council sets strategic goals, interim targets, and budgets while AT is purely an implementation agency.

      If they fail to implement appropriately, then corrective actions can be taken by council without any potential conflicts of interest. Bit like how Ministers don’t sit on the Board of SOE’s.

      Fairly standard stuff.

    2. I don’t know if Council can even remove AT’s Chair given the Ministerial role in appointments to that Board written into an amendment bill at the behest of Mr Joyce. Let alone their CEO who is not an employee of Council.

      1. Pretty sure the Ministers just appointed the original AT directors. Council has appointed the more recent ones.

  2. “a current example is Mike Lee who disagrees with decision the AT Board he is part of made over airport rail and so wants the Council to overrule that decision”

    And given that the method used by AT to dump airport rail has been shown to be flawed in many respects, that just goes to show why we need people like Mike in the organisation.

    You are basically saying that AT should not be questioned in its decisions. This is an organisation that won’t open its books, so we don’t even know if we are getting value for money with their work. It is also an organisation found to have corrupt mangerial staff in its ranks.

    The decision by the mayor is an attack on democracy. But as you point out, even with elected officials on the board, AT is flawed in its structure.

    Transport is a core business in every other council throughout New Zealand, with elected officials in charge, because it is the single biggest spender of rates in every council. That is precisely why elected officials must be in charge – the public have a right to ensure their transport spending is carried out as they want it, when it comes from half of their rates bill, which it will be if those in charge can be turfed out at the next election.

    1. @Geoff I think Matt’s actually supporting more accountability, not less. He’s just wondering if having councillors on the AT board was the best way to achieve it. Not being on the AT Board might give Mike and others more freedom to question and criticise.

        1. Don’t take yourself too seriously Geoff. Poetry has long been a way of bringing levity and humour to TransportBlog’s comment threads. Fight prose with prose! For example …

          The Truth According to Geoff Blackmore and Jon Reeves

          The TransportBlog conspiracy
          Is an act of political piracy
          They cross ethical borders
          To commit treachery of the highest order
          Pushing non-sensical non-science
          At the behest of a Labour-Green alliance
          Let’s behead the multi-headed hydra
          Like a mouse-eating Huntsman spider
          Drain the TransportBlog swamp
          Let it be replaced with PTUA’s political pomp

          – Anon

        2. “User guidelines, user guideliness….” was just that Stu – humour. Alas, you deleted it.

          But, the comment about PTUA being anti-immigration – PTUA has nothing to do with immigration, so it’s an odd comment, but if it was a reference to the founding members, then it couldn’t be more wrong. Just look at their own families, and the activities of both their personal and professional lives. The claim is so wrong, so vastly at odds with reality, it’s laughable at best, and slanderous at worst.

          But those who bandi such claims around know that. That’s not the goal. It’s just their stock standard knee-jerk reaction to anyone who promotes sustainable development and responsible immigration. Matching demand to supply is not anti-immigration. Indeed, New Zealand has ample capacity for new arrivals. Just not in Auckland. Not at this time.

          But the idea of slowing or redirecting the arrivals scares those who see population growth as the means to deliver the development they want. They want their Manhattan, and unbridled immigration will deliver it unto them (at least in their minds).

        3. I have no idea what you’re talking about Geoff – I didn’t delete any of your comments. But I accept others may have done so …

    2. I don’t think you understand the point of the post.

      As Matt points out, councillors who are on the AT board are bound to keep mum on board decisions. They are, in effect, unable to publicly discuss the board’s deliberations or report back to other councillors. Consequently, it’s a red herring to say that having councillors on the AT board enhances accountability and transparency – as they are unable to provide *any* more information than would be available via normal board reporting.

      They can, of course, leak confidential information to favoured cronies, but I don’t see how that enhances democracy.

      There are probably some good arguments for having councillors on the board, but this doesn’t quite seem like one.

    3. Not sure that was Matt’s point, whether Airport HR is good or not is irrelevant to what Matt said. The point is having Councillors on the AT Board has the potential to lead to Pork Barrel Politics which benefits some wards at the expense of others, and potentially bad projects at the expense of good.

      AT should be questioned, but the best way to do this is clear spatial plans, and solid clear SOI’s to hold AT to account using KPI’s. This process exists but AC hasn’t done well with enforcing this.

      The fact is AC can’t run Transport, that would require Parliament to change Part 4 of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 which makes AT an independent CCO & gives powers for Transport under s38, 41, & 42, while prohibiting AC from exercising transportation powers in s50

  3. All of New Zealand has democratically elected representatives on transport committees or boards, except Auckland now. I believe Goff has over stepped the mark here, especially at a time while AT is enshrined in a corruption case and the council has such a low ranking in the minds of Aucklanders. Anyone who spends public money needs to be 100% accountable to the public. The current bureaucrats running AT now have no one there to challenge their spending decisions. It does not matter who the councillors are on the Board, it could be any of the newly elected group.

    I just wonder who are the faceless people Goff dealt with when he sort “feedback”? No one seems to know who they are. Whomever they are they certainly have scant regard for democracy and accountability.

    If his plan to remove democratically elected representatives was such an above board idea, why did Goff never once mention it publicly in the election campaign?

    This is really a quesiton about democracy. Do you support democracy or not? Like it or loath it, democracy has a price, but we need it.

    1. “Anyone who spends public money needs to be 100% accountable to the public.”

      As Matt points out in the post, there are a range of accountability mechanisms, such as stronger and more stringently enforced SOIs. Perhaps, if you value accountability, you should campaign to tighten up AT’s SOIs, and put in place some penalties for failure to deliver?

      Surely PTUA would have some good ideas about what targets are important to achieve to make public transport better for users?

    2. Two questions Jon:
      1. Would you say the corruption allegations have been managed appropriately by AT ***once*** they were detected?
      2. Can you supply evidence that Council is held in low regard by most Aucklanders?

      Such gnarly issues affect many large organisations. The key question is not if they will happen, but how they are managed when they do. Original sin and all that. Here’s some examples of corruption scandals that have, for example, affected NZFirst over the years:

      1995–96 – The “Antoinette Beck” affair: National/New Zealand First MP Michael Laws resigns after being subject to a conflict of interest inquiry over employing a company partly owned by his wife to conduct a poll, signed off by a non-existent “Antoinette Beck”.[11]

      1999 – New Zealand First MP Tuariki John Delamere is forced to resign as Minister of Immigration after it emerged that he had approved permanent residency for a group of Chinese businessmen provided they invested generously in various Māori development schemes.

      It seems to me that many large organisations are affected by corruption of various kinds. It’s how the issue is dealt with that counts.

      1. I think voter turnout is one example of council being held in low regard by Aucklanders. Most voters think AC is irrelevant. That’s pretty low.

    3. Yes they do, since all Board members are appointed by AC as per s43 ss3, except the limitations on GB Members being Chair or Dep Chair as set out as per ss3, & the NZTA non voting director as per ss2B.

      They also have powers over GB procedure, employment such as CEO’s, and disposal of major assets as per s49.

      They have powers to set SOI’s which AT must follow as per s64 & 65 of Local Government Act 2002

  4. “What’s not clear is if the council will then appoint some directors on a one year term to make up the board numbers”

    Funny you mention that. Perhaps they could appoint a blogger who has been openly critical of Mike Lee, has lobbied Phil Goff to remove him from the board, and whom himself seeks to be appointed in just such a role?*

    *Possibly a true story, but let’s hope corruption doesn’t really run that deep.

    1. Tbh Goff wouldn’t have appointed Lee again anyway, as can be seen from Goffs Chair Choices, it would have been Darby and someone else.

      1. Like to provide some evidence to back, in my opinion, your defamatory slur Daphne?

        Where have I ever made any statement about any blogger – that is factually inaccurate?

        When you’re ready …..

        Penny Bright

        ‘Anti-privatisation / anti-corruption Public Watchdog’

        1. “Today, Reynolds said he applied for a board position earlier in the year and received no formal notification of any position being decided.”

          So this was before Goff was elected, it is also for

          “Reynolds is seeking a customer focus committee board observer role – a non-voting and unpaid position.”

          Not sure how an unpaid non voting position is corruption?

        2. As Harriet pointed out, the timeframes on the story do not support your conspiracy theory. According to the article, Patrick applied for a board position *before* the election. His application wasn’t successful, so he stayed in consideration for an unpaid observer role on the board. All of this happened prior to Phil Goff’s election as mayor and prior to any decisions about board roles for councillors.

          These events seem to be totally unrelated. Believing otherwise would require you to believe that time’s arrow faced in the other direction, or that people are playing weird, complicated games to no obvious end.

          Occam’s Razor: look it up.

        3. Like I said Peter, Patrick lobbied for Mike’s removal, and sought to have himself installed.

          I don’t see what relevance timeframes have. It isn’t a conspiracy, it’s quite an open takeover attempt IMO. He wanted Mike out, and himself in. Pretty simple really.

          Have to laugh at TB stating “it is not associated in any way with Auckland Transport” and Patrick stating “We are highly aligned with AT”. At least Patrick is honest, but perhaps the blog should add the AT logo in one corner to align with that honesty?

        4. What a load of made up bollocks Geoff and you know it. Patrick’s application had nothing to do with replacing Mike, it was months ago and was for an advertised position.

          And no we’re not associated with AT, if we were we wouldn’t be frequently criticising them. But not being associated doesn’t mean that we’re not aiming for the overall same goal so we happen to agree with them on many things, for example the new network which we have pushed for many years.

        5. “Patrick lobbied for Mike’s removal…”

          Do you have actual *evidence* of that, or are you just making up stuff to smear people? Keep in mind that publicly expressing a critical view about a politician’s performance does not amount to “lobbying for their removal”.

          If you don’t have any evidence, I would kindly suggest that you are in violation of user guidelines 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8ii and recommend that you retract and apologise.

          Any further conspiracy-mongering or personal attacks on other bloggers or commenters will be deleted, followed by a ban if this behaviour persists.

        6. “All of this happened prior to Phil Goff’s election as mayor and prior to any decisions about board roles”

          Keep in mind that the mayor’s decisions on AT board roles a week into his mayoralship will have been the culmination of months of considered thought, based on the feedback from others that he mentions. He has met with numerous people in AT since December 2015, and as I’m sure you know, he also has with Patrick Reynolds numerous times over the same period. He and Patrick know each other, and he (the mayor) has been well aware of Patrick’s desire to have a role in AT for quite some time. And as we have seen in a number of comments by Patrick over an extended period of time, he doesn’t like Mike being on the board.

          Nothing wrong with any of the above, it’s all legit, but please don’t try to make it sound like two different things at two different times. Both the mayor’s announcement two days ago of Mike and Christine being dumped, and the mayor’s announcement yesterday of having a preference for Patrick to have a role in AT, have been in the works from well before the election, and over more or less the same time period.

          For the record, I’m not totally against Patrick having a role. He’s pro-PT and has a head for the task, which we need. But the process is wrong, and the removal of elected accountability over the spending of half of Auckland’s rates is wrong. Even more so when AT won’t open its books to scrutiny of the spending.

        7. So to summarise: You have no evidence, but instead of retracting your smears, you choose to run with vague innuendo instead.

          As I said, this is unacceptable. Any further comments from you on this topic will be deleted, followed swiftly by a ban if you choose to continue.

        8. Geoff – might be worth getting your hands on a dictionary and looking up the difference between associated and aligned.

        9. And this thread suddenly got interesting. Attack Piece!? Paranoid much?
          Classic grumpy old man syndrome.

        10. “but instead of retracting your smears”

          What smears? I’ve been polite throughout.

          There are smears above by other posters however, particularly by Daphne, toward multiple individuals and parties.

        11. No. You’ve been trafficking in innuendo and conspiracy-mongering. For instance, in your comment *immediately above*, you say:

          “Patrick lobbied for Mike’s removal, and sought to have himself installed.

          I don’t see what relevance timeframes have. It isn’t a conspiracy, it’s quite an open takeover attempt IMO. He wanted Mike out, and himself in. Pretty simple really.”

          When challenged on this, you produced *no* evidence whatsoever to support this allegation. And you refused to retract your (apparently untrue) statement. Again, this is a pretty serious violation of user guidelines, and one that will result in a ban if you don’t get your act in order.

        12. [This comment has been deleted for continuing to violate user guidelines after repeated warnings. Rather than retracting allegations with no evidence, it repeated them, with different wording. This is your final warning on this issue. Any further conspiracy-mongering will result in a ban from commenting.]

        13. I read it as more he wasn’t opposed to someone like Patrick being on the board as opposed to having keenness for doing so and the only reason it was ‘announced’ is because Mike went complaining to Bernard Orsman about it trying to make a story out of nothing because he’s angry about Goff’s decision and unfairly blames us for it. There certainly wasn’t a press release or anything else that prompted it being raised.

        14. Geoff you keep using the word lobbyist, but I don’t think you know what that means. A lobbyist is a professional marketer who is paid by companies or organizations to sway politicians towards the companies interests. Patrick is clearly not that, he is neither paid nor furthering the percunary interests any company or organization. He is a volunteer advocate if anything.
          Your group’s allegations that Patrick is ‘corrupted’ by being paid by AT and at the same time a lobbyist paid to sway AT (by whom?) are incompatible!

        15. And more misguided smearing:

          “Given Transport Blog’s latest attack piece on councillor directors and its failure to declare its remuneration from AT I have released this documentation to the media,” Lee said.

          I’d be inclined to lay a complaint with Mike’s boss, if it was me being falsely maligned like that. Remind him of his code of conduct obligations, etc.

        16. I recently experienced one of Mike Lee’s personal rants.

          When I (and others) tried to engage constructively, Mike responded in an extremely rude manner. Mike seems to believe that when people don’t agree with him, then they must be corrupt.

          The whole experience left me feeling sorry for him. Sorry that Mike can’t see how we aspire for similar outcomes, even if we disagree on some of the details.

          I also came away thinking that external sanctions — of the type you mention — are probably not a constructive way to go. If anything they’d just entrench Mike’s beliefs about conspiracy theories, and reinforce his hatred of TransportBlog.

          I honestly think that correcting Mike’s behaviour is a responsibility better left to people who are close to him. It’s time for people that consider Mike to be a friend to get in touch with him and say “Mike, you are a legend, but even legends are expected behave decently, and the way you’re treating people on TransportBlog is, well, an embarrassment.”

        17. Very sad to see Mike Lee stoop to these lows. I had such great respect for him as the key driver behind the renaissance of Auckland’s public transport system, in particular the rail network.

          Sadly in the past few years it seems like he’s just getting grumpier and grumpier. Very sad.

  5. A select committee style questioning of AT board and staff might be a more effective way of having democratic accountability. Possibly Darby’s Planning Committee would be the best place to do this.

  6. Goff’s plan seems to rely on him holding Levy directly accountable, and without any other Councillors being in a position to muddy that relationship. He has the right outward-facing skills for that approach but let’s see how his new governing body responds.

    1. My thoughts too.
      By not having any sorry excuse for a “back channel” of elected councillors on the AT board.
      Levy can’t then say to Goff or the wider council, “well, we told you about all this [via your elected councillors, you put on our board, who BTW are like all the other board members and are sworn to commercial secrecy so they can’t tell anyone else about this stuff]”, when they pull surprises out of the hat like they’ve done.

      So the current arrangement is tying the councils hands behind their back before they start.
      And this may well help hold Levy an co’s feet to the fire.
      Well done Goff.

  7. “Six years in it feels like now is an appropriate time to shake things up to change how the organisation is run at both a board and management level to ensure we get better outcomes.” – absolutely!

    I can see how having two councillors on the board has been counter-productive, but they can’t be held solely responsible for AT’s non-performance. The make-up of the whole board should be in question, not just the two councillors. My preference would be for all board members to be elected, one per ward, so that there was direct accountability to the public. Yes, so we might need a supporting charter to prevent horse-trading, but this is part of democratizing AT and making them responsible to a lot more of Auckland. We could probably do with a stronger SOI in any case that imposes standards such as reduced fatalities, reduced carbon emissions, and equality of access to public transport for all of urban Auckland, so changes can only be a good thing, and in that sense Goff may well be right to look at the board composition of this and the other CCOs.

  8. Can I ask who appoints the AT board? The mayor? and councillors? And how often (so if a new mayor and council is elected, like we just had, they can replace everyone?)? Thanks in advance for any answers

    1. The voting members are all appointed by the councillors on the governing body, including the mayor with his one vote out of 21. They’re appointed for terms of up to 3 years, so every council will have the opportunity at some point to replace every board member.

      I don’t know if they can arbitrarily fire the entire board before their terms are up, though.

  9. “Projection” in psychoanalytical literature is when someone accuses others of their own faults. Given the Mike Lee/Bomber Bradbury/Penny Bright/PTUA/Bernard Orsman alliance which has grown up around smearing Patrick Reynolds and Transportblog as being part of some shady conspiracy, one might wonder what those people see when they look in the mirror.

    Also: “responsible immigration” is just another word for immigration cuts. If Geoff et al were serious about trying to stop Auckland’s population growing, they would be supporting a China-style one-child policy, because natural increase is the issue. But no, they just want to put restrictions on FOREIGNERS.

    1. ““responsible immigration” is just another word for immigration cuts”

      Responsible immigration is two words Daphne.

      It may involve cuts, which the government has just announced, or it may involve being smarter, such as encouraging settlement outside Auckland. The government is doing that too by the way.

      “they would be supporting a China-style one-child policy”

      It’s incredible how quickly people such as yourself attempt to falsely portray legitimate discussion of an issue that polls show concerns a majority of New Zealanders, by trying to pull either the race card, or the xenaphobe card. It demonstrates a major shortcoming in your ability to engage constructively on solving the many very real issues caused by encouraging population growth in a location unprepared for it. Solutions must be found, and in a country such as ours, with so many towns with surplus capacity, redirecting immigration is one such solution. Like I said, the government are already working on just that.

      “Given the Mike Lee/Bomber Bradbury/Penny Bright/PTUA/Bernard Orsman alliance which has grown up around smearing Patrick Reynolds and Transportblog as being part of some shady conspiracy”

      You appear to have just created your very own bonafide conspiracy there Daphne. Other than Mike, I’ve never even met those other people, and have never even heard of Bomber Bradbury. You appear to be projecting.

      1. Geoff – what makes you think Auckland is unprepared for immigration, but other places are prepared for it? I’m not sure if say Napier or New Plymouth for example received a significant influx of immigrants they would handle it any better.

        1. Auckland is clearly unprepared for it, as we’ve run out of houses causing the prices to skyrocket.

          The likes of Napier do not have the land constraints for new construction, and being flat land it’s quite straight forward to expand roads and services, and what’s more you could expand significantly for many decades without developing congestion. It makes sense to encourage businesses to relocate there (and other places), and encourage settlement there as well.

          I have a friend who moved here from South Africa three years ago. Stayed in Auckland two months, then went to New Plymouth for a year, then Ruakaka, and like so many other immigrants came to believe that Auckland should be off-limits to new arrivals. A better life awaits outside, and always will for the simple reason that continuing to develop a constrained space that cannot expand, is never going to lower prices or deliver a higher quality of living relative to provincial New Zealand.

        2. Houses would still have to be built in Napier if more immigrants go there. Whether we built out in Napier or built say terraced housing in Auckland it will still cost money, both to build the houses and improve services, in fact I’d say it would cost more in Napier as they would be greenfields developments. Also not sure if spreading out of Napier onto the highly productive horticultural land is particularly wise.

        3. “in fact I’d say it would cost more in Napier as they would be greenfields developments”

          Nope, in Napier they develop sections, install services, build brand new houses on them, then sell them for half the price of a second hand house in Auckland. It’s even cheaper than retrofitting a tiny apartment into Auckland. Auckland’s high prices are because it’s full. Trying to go smaller and higher because its full only enables continued supply within the context of that high cost structure resulting from being full. Auckland will never achieve housing affordability, no matter how small or high you go. Unless you restrict demand that is.

          The land isn’t converted from horticulture either. It’s all low value farm land, such as Lagoon Farm.

        4. Geoff – sorry I should have explained myself better, I was thinking specifically of the development and infrastructure costs, that are often at least partly borne by ratepayers and tax payer, and which are generally greater for greenfields than brownfields development. While you are right that the land cost is much greater in Auckland, it is something that is borne exclusively by the buyer. There is nothing stopping current new immigrants from taking lower prices in Napier, but based on current trends they appear happy to largely pay higher prices to live in Auckland.

          You may well be right regarding Lagoon Farm, but that is present not future, what you are suggesting is increasing migration to the provinces, which will inevitably put pressure to build on more productive land in the future. Also I’m not convinced the extra traffic generated and extra costs associated with infrastructure will be any more popular with locals in places like Napier than it is in Auckland.

          Incidentally, if net migration were to continue at the high levels it has for the last couple of years then I would fully agree we need to reduce new arrivals. However based on past trends I’m not sold it will stay high for a long period, at some point Australia’s economy will pick up and the trans-tasman flow will return to normal.

      2. “It’s incredible how quickly people such as yourself attempt to falsely portray legitimate discussion of an issue that polls show concerns a majority of New Zealanders, by trying to pull either the race card, or the xenaphobe card.”

        How about you read Daphne’s post properly.

        The biggest contributors to Auckland’s increasing population are local births, internal immigrants to Auckland or returning kiwis from overseas. Playing around with non-NZ migrants from overseas is p!ssing into the wind. Birth’s being the biggest contributor, you would need to restrict current residents to one-child each couple. Equally laughable would be trying to do something about the other 2 – Trump-style wall around the province?

        Majority of voters might think immigration is the problem. At best they are misinformed, but I don’t doubt many a xenophobic.

        1. Auckland has a 10,000 home shortfall per year on housing supply.

          Auckland also has almost 30,000 external immigrants per year settling in the city, taking up approximately 10,000 homes.

          In other words, redirect external immigration elsewhere, and housing supply in Auckland will match demand in the first year. The housing crisis would be solved.

        2. I believe that 30,000 is total “arrivals from overseas”. I read an article quoting the Dept of stats which listed those in equal quarters as:

          – returning kiwis
          – short term workers (anything from expat secondments for a few years to fruitpickers)
          – students
          – people arriving as permanent residents not part of the above.

          I presume the first lot are entitled to their share of the housing lot. The next 2 would be having a negligible effect.

          So its just the last 7500. Average 3 person per household and its 2500 houses per year they are snapping up. But that assumes each family unit buys its own. The reality is, like kiwis, many cant afford it.

          I agree buying by non-residents needs addressing but the impact of non-NZers migrating here is minimal in the grand scheme of things.

    1. What an odd post, seems he doesn’t understand how the board are selected i.e. that the council themselves are the ones that approve the directors, not some secret third party. Although he does seem to agree with my point that confidential discussions by the board are confidential and so can’t be discussed with other councillors.

      1. To be fair, the first-term arrangements giving the Transport Minister extra powers of appointment lingered in my mind too (see my first comment above).

        There’s a council sub-committee involved in the process but its powers would be strictly delegated by Council’s governing body, not subject to legal jousting.

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