Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Congestion hot topic at Auckland mayoral debate

Mt Roskill MP and Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff can count himself fortunate to have all three of his adult children living in the same city he does.

But not for much longer. His son is abandoning Auckland for Hamilton - he has simply "had a gutsful" of Auckland's traffic.

Mr Goff was speaking to about 50 business leaders at the Heart of the City and Employers and Manufacturers' Association-organised Auckland Mayoral Debate Breakfast today.

Victoria Crone.
Victoria Crone.

Congestion was a hot topic for discussion when Mr Goff and two of his mayoralty rivals, Xero NZ boss Victoria Crone and Orakei Local Board member Mark Thomas, spoke to business leaders this morning.

Mr Goff said he had to decide last night whether to set his alarm for 5am or 5.30am.

"I either get somewhere half an hour late because it's gridlocked or half an hour early."

Auckland's congestion was costing the country $3 billion a year in lost productivity, and huge growth unmatched by infrastructure growth was the city's biggest challenge.

The delay in building the City Rail Link was a classic example, he said.

"We'll get it in 2023. We need it next year."

And it was still happening.

"The Northern Busway [is] a good thing. But why have we just done the Northwestern motorway with no busway?"

Mr Thomas said the city needed to "get people on public transport" and proposed extending the Northern Busway. Ms Crone wanted more park-and-ride spaces and to make public transport more appealing to mothers.

Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff is taking a stand against the port and is opting to have it moved so that the area can be developed and enjoyed by Aucklanders. 3 June 2016 New Zealand Herald Phot
Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff is taking a stand against the port and is opting to have it moved so that the area can be developed and enjoyed by Aucklanders. 3 June 2016 New Zealand Herald Phot

"We have to make it easy for them to get around the city on public transport with their kids."

Driverless cars should also be factored into plans.

"We've got to look at what our transport will be in 20 years, because I don't believe it will look like it does today."

The longtime business leader called for the mayoral race to be a "contest of ideas, not a contest of name recognition".

"We must get the basics right. With housing, we must address supply -- land consenting and availability and the availability of infrastructure."

Mr Thomas spoke at length about his personal history -- from flipping burgers at McDonald's to leading businesses -- and said the city did not have enough people with commercial experience at the helm.

Other discussion points were the future of Auckland's port, and Eden Park.

Mr Goff and Ms Crone want the port moved but Mr Thomas said housing and transport were more pressing. He also put the future of Eden Park in the lower priority category, but wanted to know how each of the city's stadiums were performing financially.

A conversation was needed about the future of stadiums in the city, Ms Crone said, and Mr Goff said he would not support future investment in Eden Park.

He wanted a new stadium near the waterfront that catered for "three codes and concerts".

"It's not a priority to spend ratepayers' money now. But we've got to plan now."

- NZ Herald

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