Moving Auckland's port north would be 'stupid' according to Auckland Chamber of Commerce

Source: 1News

A business leader is calling the final working group report recommending the Ports of Auckland be moved near Whangārei “stupid” and influenced by politics.

Michael Barnett, the chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning moving the port’s operations to Northport at Marsden Point had not always been at the top of the list of alternative locations.

He said this led to his conclusion that “it’s politics”.

“It should have been a business decision,” Mr Barnett said.

“Take the politics out of it.”

“I think it’s stupid, to be frank, but it’s a political solution.”

He said Auckland was a key destination for freight, meaning Aucklanders would have to pay “hundreds of dollars per head” to transport goods from Northland.

He said this was effectively a “tax on Aucklanders”.

However, Jacinda Ardern said on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning she did not see the decision as being necessarily political as the move had been talked about for some time.

She said she had not yet read the final report.

1 NEWS understands the independent report was delivered to ministers over the weekend, stating freight operation based in Auckland is "no longer economically or environmentally viable".

The working group is led by Northland mayor Wayne Brown.

If it goes ahead, it will be the largest infrastructure project in New Zealand history, costing $10 billion.

It would also free up areas of Auckland’s waterfront for potential re-development.

Along with road upgrades, a new 18-kilometre rail line would be built to connect Northport to the main trunk line between Auckland and Northland.

North west of Auckland, a new freight distribution terminal would be built, and a new stretch of line would run through West Auckland, so no big freights trains need to come into the CBD.

However, Mr Barnett said people needed to consider the timeframes for the infrastructure’s completion.

“Let’s be realistic, it will be 30 years,” he said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said in October he was in favour of moving the ports “like most Aucklanders”.

“Relocation needs to be stacked up economically and protect the interests of Aucklanders,” Mr Goff said.

“It will also need to be undertaken with industry support and without imposing additional economic and environmental costs on Auckland businesses and consumers from freight being moved over much longer distances.”

Ministers Shane Jones, Phil Twyford and Grant Robertson were approached by 1 NEWS for comment yesterday.

However, as they only received the report at the weekend, they declined to comment yesterday.