Property editor of the NZ Herald

Business leaders hail unlocking of jam

Key’s City Rail Link commitment wins business praise but one leader says more Government action is needed to free up housing supply, writes Anne Gibson.

Business leaders have welcomed Prime Minister John Key's State of the Nation address - but one has indicated disappointment on the housing front.

Kim Campbell, the chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, praised the infrastructure moves but wanted more from Key on housing, particularly public-private partnerships to crack into supply.

But he welcomed progress on the Auckland City Rail Link.

"What's important is the Government has set a timetable and a business plan. That all requires the Government and the [Auckland] Council to deal with all the complexities and put it into plan and Key has set a timetable. That's a very good piece of news.

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"Complexities could have clouded it all. By putting a timetable on the process really enables the things to get moving.

"We believe intensification in the city is a good thing - getting people out of cars, the development around the railway stations ... all of those things are good for business. It was expected," Campbell said.

The proposed city rail link Aotea platform. Photo / Supplied
The proposed city rail link Aotea platform. Photo / Supplied

"The East-West announcement was good," he said of the $1.25 billion to $1.85 billion link between State Highway 1 and State Highway 20.

"We knew it would be considered a road of national significance, but by setting a tighter timeframe we get more confidence that is going to happen.

"For business in Auckland, this is absolutely essential. It should be appreciated that it is funded by the taxpayer, not the ratepayer.

"The third thing is there was a lot of talk about housing but honesty there's nothing new and Auckland might be interested in seeing something a little bit more from Government, announcing some genuine public-private partnerships, something that had more substance," Campbell said.

However, the fact that housing was in the Prime Minister's speech was welcomed, he said.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said the Government's intention to fast-track the consent process for Auckland's East-West Connection roading project was good news for the Auckland freight industry.

"The third thing is there was a lot of talk about housing but honesty there's nothing new." Photo / Doug Sherring
"The third thing is there was a lot of talk about housing but honesty there's nothing new." Photo / Doug Sherring

"We have long advocated for the East-West Connection as a critical piece of infrastructure to free up freight movement around Auckland," said Shirley.

"It is a top priority for the industry and it is good to see the Government recognises that."

The Onehunga-Penrose corridor was a critical industrial and manufacturing hub of national significance that had suffered from chronic traffic congestion for many years, impeding the vital movement of freight, he said.

"The Government's intention to get through the consent process as quickly as possible and begin construction in 2018 provides a new level of optimism for freight operators and their customers."

Public policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative praised Key's housing statements.

Prime Minister John Key addresses a large audience at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce meeting. Photo / Greg Bowkero
Prime Minister John Key addresses a large audience at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce meeting. Photo / Greg Bowkero

Dr Oliver Hartwich, executive director, said Key's stance to free up Crown land was promising, and looked to relieve some of the pressures of the ongoing housing crisis.

"We at the Initiative have long argued that Auckland's housing crisis is due to a lack of supply; we simply need to build more. Key's announcement today that there will be a focus on building more houses in Auckland over the next few years is much needed," he said.

But Opposition leader Andrew Little was scathing about Key's commitment to fund the desperately needed City Rail Link.

"It's typical of this Government that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get to this point," Little said.

"John Key's failure of ambition has been holding back growth and prosperity in our biggest city for years. His lack of leadership in this area has cost jobs and strangled businesses."

The $4.2b spend

• Completing the Western Ring Route by 2019.

• Opening the $200m Lincoln and Te Atatu interchanges in March.

• Opening the $1.4b Waterview Connection early next year.

• Ongoing construction of the $1.3b Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative.

• $268m upgrade of Southern Motorway sections by late 2018.

• Starting the Northern Motorway Upgrade in 2018, connecting it with the Western Ring Route.

• Completion of the Northern Busway Extension to Albany.

- NZ Herald

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