The Auckland Port story is sort of like the local body elections.
It's a big deal - it's just not a lot of us care.
We all hate the port of course, why wouldn't we. It's stuck in the middle of town, it looks absurd, it ruins the view and we could use the land for so much more attractive activity.
The greenies of course want space. I wouldn't mind more cruise ship parking. It seems a tragedy that our tourism industry has boomed and cruising especially, and yet the poor old punter gets shunted onto a life raft to get delivered to land, only to encounter a cluster of construction and homeless people (but that's for another column).
• Whangārei Mayoral candidates on plans to move Auckland port work to Northport
• Major study says Ports of Auckland should close, Northport be developed
• Proposal to rid Ports of Auckland of cars to create public waterfront space
The world of cruising will increasingly involve larger and larger ships and we only will be the losers if we can't accommodate them.
But back to the port. In a different time would we repeat the locational mistake? No we wouldn't.
Further, we want the port to expand because ports are a gauge of economic activity and despite this Government's best efforts to tank the economy they have so far had little impact on our terms of trade and exports. You should remember this given their favourite line at the moment to explain why business confidence is where it is, why manufacturing is going backwards and why the services sector has lost fizz is "because of the international headwinds".
That's an excuse, and if you look at our terms of trade it simply isn't true, and the activity of the ports around the country shows us this.
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But the problem for Auckland is if the port expands it is expanding against the will of many.
It's already ugly, it will just be bigger and more ugly, hence the rationale or at least part of the rationale behind moving it to Northland.
So there is logic, but equally can you really have the biggest city in the country giving its port away? No you can't.
The simple question surely is, where does all the stuff that arrives at the port most likely end up? Answer: Auckland.
As much as we may hate the fact the place is a massive second-hand car park, the reality is those cars end up in garages around the corner.
If those cars arrive in Northland, where do they end up? Same place, yet suddenly you need the infrastructure and cost of taking them a few hundred kilometres down the road. Why would you do that if you didn't have to?
Comparatively next to nothing that arrives in Northland will stay there, so what's the point?
Economic activity and political advantage is the answer, and we'll come back to that.
Point to point is the common sense aspect of trade and ports.
The more you drag things around the countryside the more it costs. The more it costs, the more resources you burn, the more all of that gets passed on to the punter - why then are we wanting to make things more expensive?
You can of course make a fabulous case for Northland. Do they have room? Yes. Would it help the local economy? Yes.
In a more general sense you can expand the thinking out to government departments and help the regions, invest in infrastructure and jobs… put the Ministry of Health in Whanganui, Statistics NZ in Nelson - none of this thinking is new.
It's the same as bonding graduates to rural New Zealand - great in theory but it just doesn't work in reality.
And that's before you get to the massive conflict of interest with New Zealand First.
Who benefits from Auckland moving to Northland? In my opinion it's Winston Peters and Shane Jones.
Jones said with his best straight face last week that this idea has been passed through the Cabinet, of course it has, it's part of the coalition deal and why is it part of it?
Because it's worth votes.
Take the Provincial Growth Fund money and add a port, and work out what those two have pumped into the backyard of Peters and Jones and ask yourself whether that adds up to votes.
So is the potential move of the port really about smart business? Or even smarter bare-faced vote grabbing?
And why are so few asking that question out loud?