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The Northern Advocate has asked Whangārei's mayoral candidates, Sheryl Mai, Alex Wright and Tony Savage to answer a series of questions as part of its 2019 local body election coverage. We gave them 200 words to answer each question.
Today they answer the final question: Do you support moving some of Ports of Auckland's work to Northport, and why/why not?
I totally support this concept – let's make it happen. WDC is part of the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) including NRC and Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty councils.
UNISA initiated the "Freight Story 2013", identifying critical freight-related issues and building an evidence base for future decision-making - working with Auckland Transport, KiwiRail and NZTA.
UNISA also developed the "Industrial Land Demand Study 2015" to identify industrial land availability and opportunities for smart, efficient investment decisions. Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty generate 52 per cent of New Zealand's GDP, contain 53 per cent of the population and 56 per cent of NZ's freight is moved within the upper North Island.
The upper North Island's freight efficiency affects the whole country's prosperity. UNISA identified the need late 2016 to start discussions with port industry stakeholders as the first step towards scoping a joint approach for land use and transport planning. This latest study is continuation of that work.
I agree with the findings of the Working Party - integrated transport, including investment in our road and rail infrastructure, is vital to the proposal's success.
We are ready, willing and able to support this move - both Auckland and Whangārei will reap the rewards.
Moving Auckland Port freight operations to Northport will bring over 2000 well paid new jobs to Whangārei. That will be a tremendous shot in the arm for regional development in Northland.
The proposed move gets back $2 for every $1 spent by central government. It is a good investment and benefits the Northland economy over $200m.
The port and associated rail will attract business and employment opportunities involved in industries such as logistics, warehousing and distribution.
Successful ports need rail facilities, so the recently announced upgrade of the Northland Auckland line was hugely supported by rail advocacy groups such the Great Northern Railway Charitable Trust which I chair. The rail line will help clear our congested roads and reduce damage due to heavy vehicle movements.
The development of Northport as a modern, world-class, deep-water alternative will enable to continued growth of Northland's exports.
The two port strategy of Tauranga and Northport in the upper north island is a great opportunity for Whangārei and in the long term best interests of New Zealand. I fully support the moving the Auckland Port freight operations to Northport.
Moving some of Port of Auckland's work to Northport at Marsden Point would be the biggest development for Northland since the expansion of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery in 1981. I would support the move.
It would be a game changer for the Whangārei District with a great employment opportunity.
There would need to be a great deal of planning by our District and Regional Councils for infrastructure including road and rail. Housing would need to be planned for with the increased work force. We would need to consider the environmental impact.
This very exciting prospect would need ambitious forward thinking representatives from Northland's governing bodies and private enterprise to make sure we don't end up with the infrastructure issues that our District is facing right now.
Robust discussion and planning would need to start as soon as the move from Port of Auckland to Northport is confirmed.
A good working partnership between our Representatives and Government would need to be paramount.
If I am successfully elected as your Mayor of Whangārei, I would relish the challenge of being part of the decision making process for this very stimulating and thrilling development for Northland.