It's hard to fault the timing of Chris Darby's fresh proposal for Auckland Council to sell down its stake in Ports of Auckland, even if by his own admission his message delivery wasn't the greatest.
What it has done is reignited discussion about the Super City's finances which, let's be honest, are dire.
That Darby ended up apologising to his fellow councillors and Mayor Phil Goff for blindsiding them with his four-page report does not take away from the fact that Auckland needs to make some decisions around funding, and make them fast.
Ratepayers already suffering from Covid-19 fallout cannot bear the full brunt of the city's funding shortfall, recently exacerbated by loss of dividend income from two of the council's biggest investments - Ports of Auckland and Auckland International Airport.
A recent report shows the Council will receive projected dividends of just $8.7 million in 2020 and $9.4 million in 2021 before increasing again to $64.3 million in 2022.
Indeed, the council could and should be reviewing its ownership of these assets.
It wasn't able to participate in the airport's recent $1.2 billion capital raise and its investment was diluted to below 20 per cent, meaning it's no longer in theory a strategic shareholder in that asset.
Darby's suggestion of selling a 50 per cent stake in Port's of Auckland to the Government in reality is probably not going to go far - the Government has more pressing issues on its plate, including its own damaged books.
But there's no reason why the council shouldn't consider selling down its stake in Ports of Auckland by floating shares on the NZX in the same way the Government sold down its electricity company shares.
That mixed-ownership partial-privatisation programme may not have been totally popular across the political spectrum at the time but it's hard not to view it as successful.
In most cases the government's subsequent 51 per cent shareholdings - post listing - have ended up above the value of their 100 per cent SOE shareholdings while still extracting dividends.
The process of listing those electricity companies brought greater capital discipline and improved dividend yields, while also raising the Crown around $4.7 billion in cash to invest in other much-needed infrastructure projects.
Ports of Auckland was previously a listed company and, despite its poor performance relative to Port of Tauranga, would likely attract strong demand from investors.
The Auckland port is coming through quite a significant business restructuring while also facing an uncertain future due to the pressure to move the port elsewhere.
Ultimately port consolidation will happen in New Zealand and having some market discipline and transparent disclosure of the issues would be welcome.
Globally, ports are being disrupted by a container industry that faces difficulties caused by overcapacity and big losses for the major shipping lines.
Auckland Council, meanwhile, has myriad of its own problems such as how to plug a multibillion-dollar infrastructure hole, maintaining investment in critical water and wastewater infrastructure and sorting out Watercare's woes.
Stakeholders need only look at the Port of Tauranga as a guide as to what can be achieved with a mix of local authority and sharemarket ownership.
Chris Darby needn't apologise for raising such a legitimate question.