Auckland is a great city that could be the greatest. All it needs is to be allowed to breathe and to grow.

Unfortunately, it's stifled and suffocated. Decades of command and control have left their ugly mark in ticky-tacky development, grandiose council projects and run-down infrastructure.

The congestion and sky-high house prices are the result of city planning, just as surely as astronomical prices and queues in the old Soviet Union were the product of the State Planning Committee.

The waste is horrific.


Auckland is a city of get-up-and-goers. It's a magnet for the country and attracts talent from around the world.

The resulting dynamism makes the city great. The tragedy is that it is reduced where it is most needed. Housing development is ring-fenced and totally controlled. The result is chronic shortage and sky-high prices.

Developments - from the backyard shed to the city's skyscrapers - are rigidly controlled by the city's planners. The result is cookie-cutter developments where the new ones look just like the old ones and the ones in the west look just like the ones in the east.

It's as dreary as an old Moscow state housing project.

The talent Auckland has can do so much more if only the council would do far, far less. For Auckland to breathe and grow the council should set minimal rules and scuttle out of the way. We would be amazed at the result.

The city would flourish and develop as everything does when freedom reigns. It's the central plan that chokes a city just as it chokes an economy.

We naturally expect any plan to be one we would want. But it never is.

It always becomes no one's plan and a political and bureaucratic quagmire brought to a standstill by bureaucratic process and consenting demands. It should work but it never does.


New mayor Phil Goff has spent his precious first months arguing for a bed tax. It doesn't matter much either way to the future of Auckland and it's shocking that it has become the mayor's thing.

He should be removing the council as a roadblock to the city's development to let homeowners and business to get on with what they do best.

That would make great chunks of the council redundant, which would have the added benefit of meaning no need for new taxes and no need for rate hikes.

The burden of the council would fall and the city flourish. It's all upside.

We need council to go back to doing council things - which should be extremely limited.

We don't need council telling us what we can do in our own backyard or bossing us on developments that are our business and our money.

That's what's holding a great city back from becoming the greatest.