Auckalnd City committed to Westhaven tender
City committed to Westhaven tender after Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s advice
“Given today’s advice from Sir Geoffrey Palmer Auckland City is committed to participating in the commercial tendering process for Westhaven and Hobson West Marinas,” Auckland City Mayor Hon John Banks said today at a joint press conference with constitutional law expert and former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
“Last month, after much public discussion around who actually owns Westhaven, I invited Sir Geoffrey to give us a definitive legal opinion.
“We asked for his advice on the history of ownership and whether the people of Auckland should have 80 percent of this strategic waterfront asset freely transferred back to them via a local authority,” said Mr Banks.
The marinas are for sale by Ports of Auckland, which is 80 per cent publicly owned by the ‘public purse,’ Infrastructure Auckland. Given this, it has been suggested that the people of Auckland have always owned Westhaven and therefore it should be transferred at no cost back to those same people.
In his opinion, released today, Sir Geoffrey believes it would be “hopeless” for the City to mount a legal challenge. His belief is consistent with the City’s that the marinas legally belong to Ports of Auckland Ltd and therefore are its to be independently sold.
Sir Geoffrey said: “It is my legal view that the Auckland City Council has no prospect of successfully challenging the sale by the Ports of Auckland Limited of any of the strategic assets I was asked to examine. The 1988 reform package directed the Port Company to act as a successful business. Allowing the sale and acquisition of assets depending on the changing circumstances and demands of the port business was one of central objectives of the reform package. Ports of Auckland own the assets and they can sell them."
Mr Banks said before the City advanced the tendering process it was important it had clarity beyond doubt that putting a tender in would indeed be the right and only option to publicly secure this gateway to the city.
"The Auckland City Council is now looking at options to secure Westhaven and other waterfront areas in public ownership and will be putting in a conditional bid for the marinas, subject to public consultation,” Mr Banks said.