The High Court has agreed with incorporated society Urban Auckland that the Council and the Port company were in error when they decided they don’t need to consult Aucklanders to expand further into the harbour, here for the full judgement:
It is important that the Council accepts this decision and furthermore firmly *encourages* ACIL and the Port company to do so too. The Council alone spent $500,000 directly on this case to defend their earlier poor decision. Clearly this is just a part of their spending on our behalf following the rogue path of our wholly owned Ports of Auckland Ltd. Somehow the Council legal team got captured by the Port’s view of the world and their role in it. I accept the Council has a responsibility to back their officers’ earlier position but enough is enough.
And enough is more that enough with the Port Company. It really is time to part with the governance direction of the current board. They seem to have had two big ideas; first to fight their employees, second to trick and fight their owner. In both cases the courts taken a dim view of their approach. Also in each case I have no issue with the general aim but it is the path chosen to pursue these goals that is clearly crooked and unwise. I support the port seeking to improve their opoerational productivity, and I support the port seeking to right-size its physical footprint. But in each case this board and management have chosen the most confrontational and devious means to try to achieve these goals. And have been found to be sneaky and duplicitous by the courts; in ways that we would abhor in a privately owned company, let alone one representing the people of Auckland. In his written judgement Justice Venning is clear in pointing out that the Ports’ strategy is not clever on any level, especially on one of fiscal prudence:
 To the extent that there will be further delay and cost to POAL it has to a degree brought that on itself in the way that it urged the Council to proceed on the non-notified basis in the knowledge of the reaction that was likely to engender. In doing so it took a commercial risk in proceeding in that way.
It shouldn’t come to this. Citizens should not have to take legal action against people handsomely paid to serve them. It takes a hell of an effort and is a vast distraction, and costs everyone a fortune. Board Chair Hawkins has said he would rather resign than not build these extensions. Well the High court has stopped the extensions…..?
There is a lesson here too for other organisations that may lose sight of the fact that they only exist as servants of the people, and not just as facilitators for particular special interest groups. For example NZTA’s habit of deciding what it wants to do in our name without any real consultation, except with those business interests it is close to, should take heed from this decision. The process around what is now called the East West Connections and the Kirkbride Rd intersection give much room for disquiet. But these are nothing compared to what is likely to erupt as the Agency proceeds with one plan for a new Waitemata harbour crossing without any kind of serious process to discover the people of Auckland’s view on all the options. Especially without a real search for innovative solution including options without adding any additional traffic lanes. For despite all the rhetoric around the urgency to ‘solve’ congestion this agency is still rushing to spend billions on traffic inducing mega-projects; the greatest generators of traffic growth and therefore congestion.
So many of the worst features of Auckland’s current infrastructure are the result of public officials or central government deciding what is best for the city without allowing sufficient wider input into these decisions. This port extension issue should be a warning that the people of Auckland will no longer put up with being left out of these decisions.
Links, especially for donations towards our legal case:
Please continue to give your support in any way you can:
Urban Auckland Westpac bank account : 03 0162 0135709 00
Code: UA POAL Fighting fund
Reference: your name