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POAL Property Assets - Solution Proposal

PARLIAMENT -UNDER URGENCY – Leaders of the House

TO: Prime Minister, Ministers of the Crown, Auckland Regional Council, Auckland Territorial Authorities, the people of Auckland and the wider New Zealand community, media.

PORTS OF AUCKLAND SALES:
Public Resolution - Property Assets - Solution Proposal

The following resolution was passed unanimously at a public meeting held 30 March, 2004.

“We call upon the Minister of Local Government Hon Chris Carter to intervene immediately to stop the asset sale programme of the Ports of Auckland by any means possible.”

During the meeting Ms Penny Bright and Ms Lisa Prager presented documents showing that the Electoral College of Infrastructure Auckland - made up of civic leaders namely Auckland’s Mayors and the Auckland Regional Council chair - were negligent in acting in the public’s best interests by not following procedures of due diligence in significant public matters.

Evidence demonstrating a lack of due diligence comes from the Electoral College of Infrastructure Auckland’s minutes of a meeting held 7th November 2003: Item 10.

The minutes record that a letter was received from North Shore City Council advising:
- That North Shore City Council firmly believes Westhaven Marina should be secured in ‘regional public ownership in perpetuity’ and that this should be communicated under urgency to the
- Electoral College of Infrastructure Auckland
- Infrastructure Auckland
- Ports of Auckland
- that NSCC Mayor pursue this matter with urgency to the Auckland Mayoral Forum, and other Auckland territorial local authorities and the Regional Council and ask for support in this stance
- that territorial authorities be advised that NSCC is researching Hobson West Marina pre-sales process scheduled to begin 2003 (Exact minutes locate “10 Correspondence) Minute No: 33/03

As Ms Bright and Ms Prager emphasised the minutes were recorded as received and that was the end of the matter. Discussion did NOT place.

Meanwhile, Mayor John Banks constantly advocated that Auckland City Council should spend $400m more or less, of Auckland City’s ratepayer money for the purchase of Hobson West and Westhaven Marinas, Queens Wharf, Princes Wharf, Westhaven Parks and walkways, Halsey St extension/Western Viaduct replacement, and Wynyard Point (the Tank Farm).

He has not mentioned at any point, the critical letter and resolution from North Shore City Council to the Electoral College, 7/11/03. The affected community that is, Auckland City residents and ratepayers, are expected to pay astronomical rate increases for ACC’s waterfront development plans.

Mayor Banks also advocated the selling of the remaining 12.5% (approx) in Auckland International Airport Ltd held by Auckland City Council to help provide funds towards the purchase of the Ports of Auckland waterfront properties.

In 2002, Mr Banks and supporting Councillors sold half of AIAL shares against the will of the public - over 75% submissions opposed such a sale.

Further, Sir Barry Curtis, Mayor of Manukau City and Chair of the Electoral College of Infrastructure Auckland is reported as saying that he too believes that “the mayors want Westhaven to stay in public ownership but it is up to Parliament to stop the sale” (see: Auckand City Harbour News, 26.3.04 – lead story).

I understand that Sir Barry Curtis, as chair of the Electoral Forum of Infrastructure Auckland, has not published or revealed at any time in the public arena, the resolution put forward by North Shore City Council for Electoral College support and action regarding the urgent need to keep the Ports of Auckland sale properties in ‘regional public ownership for perpetuity’ (see p1 & 2).

On Feb 5 2004, I visited Ports of Auckland officers, accompanied by Gary Osborne (Waitakere City), and was informed that the Ports of Auckland was sold and became a limited company, with Infrastructure Auckland holding an 80% stake on behalf of Aucklanders.

It is my view, that under the Ports Companies Act 1988
- compulsory corporatisation was a principal agenda, and that under the Ports Companies Act 1993, the Ports of Auckland purchased property by raising debentures.
- Legal complications have recently been raised by Dail Jones (New Zealand First MP) covering Ports of Auckland acquiring properties as operational ports, and Westhaven Marina (1998) as commercial activity property i.e. there appears to be a discrepancy between Ports of Auckland definitions deciding ‘core commercial and/ or non-core commercial activities.

CURRENT SITUATION PERSPECTIVE
1. Ports of Auckland operates as a limited trading company
2. Aucklanders have an 80% stake in the Ports of Auckland held under stewardship by Infrastructure Auckland
3. Private ownership has a 20% stake in the Ports of Auckland
4. Aucklanders are not able to view the Ports of Auckland Register of Interest at their office and are discouraged from attending Special Meetings with Ports of Auckland Directors. I understand that Ports of Auckland officers and Directors view the asset sales programme on Ports of Auckland property as property that is not commercially viable and the business focus will shift to eastern commercial port.
5. Infrastructure Auckland acts on Aucklanders behalf and appoints Directors on the Board of Ports of Auckland.
6. Infrastructure Auckland did not know of the Electoral College of Infrastructure Auckland’s urgent request from North Shore City Council dated 7.11.03 instructing representative bodies across the region to return the land to ‘regional public ownership in perpetuity.’
7. Ports of Auckland acts as a commercial trading business and wants the best price for non-commercial land placed on the open property market.
8. Auckland City Council is prepared to offer at least $400m for the land.
9. A yachting consortium is also bidding for Westhaven Marina (as a charitable trust).
10. Overseas entrants are invited to bid for Ports of Auckland non-commercial land for sale.
11. 31 March 2004 – tenders close for the purchase of Westhaven Marina and Hobson West Marina.
12. The people of Auckland have been deliberately kept out of the affected consultation-net even though the harbour-front properties have heritage value, are the people have a majority stake in the Ports of Auckland.
13. Infrastructure Auckland is legally responsible for operational expenses in the Auckland region and use past asset sales revenue to grant loans, contribute to stormwater and road projects.
14. Infrastructure Auckland holds $900m through previous public asset sales.


PROPOSED SOLUTION
1. Infrastructure Auckland grants necessary funds to purchase all Ports of Auckland non-core commercial activity property (see p1).
2. The Local Govt Minister, Hon Chris Carter, intervenes immediately and places a caveat on the sale of Ports of Auckland west-side properties.
3. The caveat prevents the Ports of Auckland tender process from continuing until matters are sorted.
4. The people of the Auckland region become the new owners of the Ports of Auckland non-commercial activity properties.
5. The people of the Auckland region are natural and public owners in perpetuity.
6. The Auckland Regional Council holds stewardship in trust that is legally placed over the newly created Auckland Regional and Maritime Trust Park.
7. Present Ports of Auckland non-commercial activity properties make a profit which is returned to the newly created regional and maritime park.
8. The regional and maritime park is self-sustaining and is therefore, not a burden to Auckland ratepayers.
9. The public of Auckland are consulted and mandate the above.
10. The people of Auckland, through Auckland Regional Holdings, continue to have an 80% stake in Ports of Auckland’s commercial properties.
11. The Board of Directors on the Ports of Auckland and Auckland Regional Holdings address issues whereby the public are entitled to wider consultation practice.
12. Parliament has the power to act now and under urgency to resolve this most important matter. We urge all political parties to have the courage and the tenacity to do so, this afternoon – as representatives of the people.

ENDS

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