National MP Judith Collins says Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones should stay out of the Ports of Auckland's plans for a five-level waterfront carparking block and accused him of "strong-arming" business.
After Jones this morning announced he was seeking advice from officials on what the Government could do to stop the port's plans, Collins indicated he should butt out of business affairs.
"This is reckless behaviour from a minister," Collins said. "Business needs to know that it can operate independently in the best commercial interests, without being caught up in political games. This is exactly the reason why businesses have no trust in this Government and its economic management."
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Jones said this morning he had sought advice from Ministry of Transport officials on what the Government could do to stop the port's carpark block plans for Bledisloe Wharf.
A port spokesman said this morning the block would be 17m tall.
Jones said the port occupied "grossly subsidised land and it's no wonder Auckland rates are so high because ratepayers are subsidising the port to be on that land. This carpark makes a mockery of all the plans to beautify and modernise Auckland as an international destination. To put a six-level carparking building on grossly subsidised land ... as an NZ First MP and a member of Cabinet, I find that grossly offensive."
Collins, National's infrastructure spokesperson responded, saying the minister "must cease meddling in the operations of the port and allow it to make commercial decisions free of political interference."
"Mr Jones says he is seeking advice on whether the Government can stop the council-owned company from building a multi-level waterfront car handling facility because NZ First wants to relocate the port to Marsden Point. This is reckless behaviour," Collins said.
Asked if she was, therefore, backing the port on its carpark plans, Collins said: "That's between the port and the council. It's not okay for a Government minister to be strong-arming a business entity owned by the council Jones needs to get on with delivering a dry dock at either Whangarei or Picton which is desperately needed by the shipping industry and defence."
She cited an NZIER report released last September which found the costs of moving the vehicle processing facilities away from Auckland would outweigh the benefits by $1b, and result in the loss or about 10,000 jobs.