SYDNEY - New Zealand business leaders gathered with their Australian counterparts in Sydney last night to discuss the commercial benefits of upcoming events in Auckland such as the formation of the Super City and the Rugby World Cup.
Kiwi businesspeople at the event, organised by ARC development agency AucklandPlus, included Auckland Airport chief Simon Moutter, ex-All Black captain David Kirk and marine sector leader Mark Wightman.
Speaking before the event, AucklandPlus acting chairman Ross Peat said Australians were beginning to take investment in Auckland more seriously as the formation of the Super City, as well as the Rugby World Cup, loomed on the horizon.
"We think that a unified Auckland is going to help make the city a better destination for business," he said. "I'm certainly a believer that this unified, integrated approach is very important for Auckland."
Peat said having a single Auckland council would lighten regulation and make doing business less complex.
The new council would also have a specialised focus on important sectors across the Auckland region, he added, rather than the current situation where each local government had its own approach to the various industries inside its jurisdiction.
Moutter, who was a panellist at last night's event, agreed that the major changes in Auckland's local governance structure would have only a positive impact on business.
"I can't think of a single business voice that has been anything other than supportive of the formation of the Super City," he said. "From a perspective of doing business, what you want to do is move quickly to certainty on decisions, particularly around opportunities. Having a single council, rather than seven, is always going to make things easier."
As well as explaining the benefits of the Super City to his Australian counterparts, Moutter said he would also pitch some development opportunities available at Auckland Airport.
"We've got 250ha of commercial development land at the airport and we'd like to see that put to good use," he said.
Moutter said the airport would like to see productive, innovative businesses moving on to the commercially zoned, currently undeveloped land.
"We'd love to see some Australian investors coming up with ideas to put [the land] to good use."
Colin McKinnon, executive director of the New Zealand Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (NZVCA), also attended the event.
He said the formation of the Super City would provide opportunities for the local innovation and investment scene if having a single council made Auckland a better place to "work, live and play".
Any improvements the new council makes to the city could help attract new research talent to Auckland's universities, as well as angel investors.
"The interception of those groups then creates the opportunity to commercialise some of that research that comes out of the universities."