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Strategic Arse Elbow

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 am, June 2nd, 2016 - 135 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, john key, local government, national, same old national, supercity, sustainability, transport - Tags:

Today this government shows terminal symptoms of Strategic Arse Elbow (SAE).

Going in the one direction, this morning at 10am the Prime Minister launches construction of the City Rail Link. New Zealand’s largest-ever infrastructure project, it’s going to revolutionize rail travel in Auckland, and provide a massive boost to high-density residential and commercial investment and city living.

Going in precisely the other direction, two hours later the government will release its National Housing Statement, which it has forecast will loosen Auckland’s growth belt so fast its trousers will fall down. This policy directive provides the government with explicit powers to undo the Auckland Plan and Draft Unitary Plan’s clear direction towards rail travel, other public transport, and higher density residential and commercial investment and city living.

No agency in central government can provide as clear and coherent advice about the future growth of Auckland, and clearly no-one in government is. Indeed forming that coherence is precisely what the Auckland Council is for. This government is today forcing the most massive policy and programme contradiction seen in a lifetime. John Key does not know his policy Arse from his execution Elbow.

135 comments on “Strategic Arse Elbow ”

  1. Nick 1

    ShonKey is about staying in power, not the consequences of his decisions.

  2. lprent 2

    Exactly. I can’t believe that even this rather stupid National government could be quite so goddamn stupid.

    I don’t want my rates to go to financing bloody super-expensive city infrastructure so far out of town that it is almost in a different province. They need to be primarily funding the basic infrastructure inside the existing limits. We’re still fixing up the transport in

    The developers or the buyers want to go to greenfield sites, then they should should fund those costs up front to expose the true cost of those kinds of sites. They should not be subsidised by the rest of the city.

    Similarly if National wants to help their land-banker mates in places like Kumeu, then they should fund the extension of the SH16 motorway so that it extends to Kumeu.

    Or fund the NW rail to double line electric and put on services. That road out there is already congested. It can’t handle another 50 thousand people planted out there over the next decade. The transport and public transport should go in first.

    Basically what Auckland city can afford is to increase the density on top of the existing transport infrastructure.

    Apart from anything else that is because the usual laziness of National has meant that they hadn’t put in any of the transport infrastructure projects in the last 7.5 years apart from the City Rail Link – which is just starting.

    I don’t think that any of the projects that are completed or are that are running to completion now were initiated or initially funded by National. They are all from the last Labour government. Everything from the Waterview tunnel to the Onehunga line to the rail electrification.

    The CRL is the only one that I am aware of that National so reluctantly got dragged into.

    • dv 2.1

      I don’t want my rates to go to financing bloody super-expensive city infrastructure so far out of town that it is almost in a different province

      I did a quick calculation.
      At 17Billion for the green field development each rate payer in Auckland will need to ADD $2000 to their rates for 20 years.

      • Instauration 2.1.1

        The substations and the sewerage plants and the water sources and the new jobs are not in the CBD. The CBD is increasingly irrelevant unless you are an international student – who already lives in the CBD – as long as your parents may be prosperous …
        We have had a decade or two of building infrastructure from these sources to the CBD to the benefit of apartment developers.
        The suburbs are where the sources are – substations in Otahuhu and Albany, sewerage in Mangere and Rosedale, water in Papakura, Universities in Albany, Northcote and Wiri. The CBD is a distant destination from these sources
        ATEED finally acknowledges with the “Grow North” strategy that the CBD is not prime and is not where most Aucklanders live, work or play.

        • Ad 2.1.1.1

          The Draft Auckland Unitary Plan acknowledges and plans for a multi-centred city, but also acknowledges that will always have a commercially and socially dominant CBD.

          LPrent’s point is to use the infrastructure Auckland already has, because it costs far, far less than putting fresh infrastructure into green fields development on Auckland’s periphery.

          The CRL is a case in point: it is a project that benefits the whole of the existing electrified rail network, from Swanson to Papakura.

          • Instauration 2.1.1.1.1

            Fine – but a “socially dominant” CBD needs context – cos the jobs won’t be there and the majority of people won’t live there – and most Aucklanders will avoid the CBD unless forced.

            “Commercially dominant” – yeah – that’s dollars not people – dollars don’t need trains or toilets.

            Take a drive and a special minute to view the vistas from Redoubt and Albany Heights

            The Greenfields of Ormiston and Takanini, Coatesville, Paremoremo and Kumeu, do not have a significant Civic infrastructure cost – the infrastucture is close (can see and smell Rosedale and Mangere ) water from Waitakere too – unless you consider transit to the CBD as relevant – (no jobs there !)

            The infrastructure is sourced at the periphery.

            • WILD KATIPO 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Hmmmm…. seems like the Natz and the land bankers / developers negotiate the deals something along these lines…

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amZsdpLXcIo

            • Ad 2.1.1.1.1.2

              You don’t have a clue about infrastructure at all.

              They all function as networks. They are distributed in their essence.

              The task for asset managers of networks is to enable smooth and efficient delivery at the lowest possible OPEX. You can ask Vector, Watercare, Auckland Transport, NZTA, Chorus, Vodafone, Visionstream, Two Degrees, hell you can ask them all.

              So no, infrastructure is not sourced at the “periphery”. It’s everywhere. And if you had a blind clue about how infrastructure works in Auckland, you’d know that. But you don’t.

              The reason every single goddam one of those utilities don’t want Auckland to grow fast – and if you’d gone to the unitary Plan Hearings and read each one of their evidence you would know this – is because it’s far more expensive to have stretched infrastructure with low use and low number of connections on average per metre. It will bloat their OPEX, shrink their profit per connection, and force them to invest faster than they otherwise would. Every one of them.

              So take a moment and read their submissions before you open your gob again on this.

              You have no clue and no useful point whatsoever.

    • Stephen 2.2

      Pretty sure they know exactly what they are doing. Buying votes to stay in power.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      The developers or the buyers want to go to greenfield sites, then they should should fund those costs up front to expose the true cost of those kinds of sites. They should not be subsidised by the rest of the city.

      QFT

      Sure, it will put the prices of the houses out there up so much that no one will buy them but that’s actually the market working.

      Of course, National doesn’t actually like the market no matter what they say so they will always undermine it so that the rich can get richer at everyone else’s expense. Usually via some sort of government subsidy.

      Similarly if National wants to help their land-banker mates in places like Kumeu, then they should fund the extension of the SH16 motorway so that it extends to Kumeu.

      I’m with the rest of the country and don’t think that the rest of the country should subsidise Nationals developer mates either. Which council did Kumeu used to be under? If we still had that council then the land-bankers could fund it. Interesting that we got an inefficient Supercity just in time for Nationals mates to get heavily subsidised by the rest of Auckland.

      The CRL is the only one that I am aware of that National so reluctantly got dragged into.

      Didn’t Labour say that they were going to fund it and then National got in and the plans got cut?

    • Unicus 2.4

      Let’s rememberthat it was in fact the last Labour government which agreed the dedicated AK fuel tax would be used to fund the rail infrastucture plan developed by the ARC and NZTA – that plan included the CRL –

      It was Bill English who in ignorance of its significance – withdrew the AK fuel tax authority . His action in doing this has effectively halted rail infrastucture progress in AK ever since .

    • Instauration 2.5

      The real question here is are we spending $2.4B on the CRL just to facilitate minimum wage jobs in Casino and Hotel and Retail ($2 and Noodles) – the targeted employees are students who already reside in the CBD – at the Largesse of their transiently empowered parents ?
      I don’t see any CBD job growth – the opposite; NZME, Fonterra, Spark, UOA, AUT, RNZ, POA, ADHB – – none are headcount Bulls. F + A – Insurance the same. The Future of Work thinking supports this.
      And Vodafone is cutting and running to the suburbs !
      Invest a fraction of $2.4B in suburban Business Hubs – for a superior outcome.

      • Ad 2.5.1

        Again, you simply show your willful ignorance of what any infrastructure network does, let alone urban rail.

        If you don’t see any CBD job growth, you are a fucking moron. There’s more cranes growing more high-rise commercial buildings in Auckland than at any other time since 1987. There is more growth in $100k+ jobs in a 5mk radius of central Auckland – go ask ATEED.

        University of Auckland is investing massively. AUT has just done a ten-year cycle of growth and is gearing for more. Air New Zealand building a new headquarters and gearing for massive growth. Apartments are skyrocketing. Go ahead knock Fonterra, but they are being supplanted by hundreds of medium-sized food groups, many starting right here. Immigration is pouring in. New car purchases are going through the roof. Massive new hotels are springing up. The city is coping with a boom.

        That’s what new infrastructure has to deal with. And if you can’t figure out that a decent public transport system is what any sane person in a developed world should expect as a matter of course – and they do – then you probably have no idea or need of anything that a decent city could bring anyway.

        • Instauration 2.5.1.1

          Cranes and construction are speculative – yep I was there in 1988 – endured but survived the subsequent Gnarley outcomes. Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney are now experiencing the “glut” – the banks have responded by blacklisting to limit supply. (Take a lesson here JK – supply will be managed to assure profit)

          Show me the real CBD job growth stats – not premised on someone taking a punt in an SME that is leveraged to Family property and delusion ?

          Show me the UOA staff headcount projections – investment is not analogous to employment.

          Yep AUT is investing in Nothcote and Wiri.

          Show me that Air NZ is anticipating a substantial headcount increase in the CBD.

          WTF – does people leveraging equity in their inflated property interests to purchase a new vehicle have to do with CBD viability ?

          Immigrants need a job – that sure as hell won’t be fulfilled by the CBD – (just ask me about those I support)

          When the students are called back home – cos their parents default – Auckland will be naked.

          I’m sane – experienced (old) – informed (tech too) and averse to delusion.

        • Instauration 2.5.1.2

          Bernard has the oil;

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11650806

          Bad form AD to imply that I’m a “fucking moron” when I posit no direct criticism to any respondent – moderators treat such assertions as candy.

          • mickysavage 2.5.1.2.1

            Do you actually live in Auckland? Are you aware of the plans for development which have forced the Government against its will to support the CRL?

            • Instauration 2.5.1.2.1.1

              Respectfully MS – yep since migrating North in 81.
              Have commuted to corporate CBD climes from the same ECB nest daily – and by choice since. Services to the 80/90’s legal industries made and influenced me.

              Have seen the peaks and lows of commuting – and remember when the Clipons were closed.
              Commuting is not so bad now – if I do need a CBD session the commute is <50min – but the CBD experience – smelly / smokey people !

              Please advise these clandestine development plans that have " forced the Government against its will to support the CRL"

              I do recall metrics of CBD employment and rail journey growth that Nats asserted must be met before Central Gov't investment.
              These were not and would never be met – I'm not sure why the Gov't capitulated ?

              • mickysavage

                You will have to talk to the Government to find out the development plans. And you don’t seem to understand. The rail system maxes out in a couple of years time. It will be full. The CRL is needed so that it operates more effectively and capacity for the region is doubled.

                The Government capitulated because the use of the system was way above what was required. The job growth was not but here is the thing. People catch trains for all sorts of reasons. It does not matter if they are travelling to a job or travelling to a course. Every trip is one less car trip.

                The place is one big network. Your comments show that you do not understand this. So stop lecturing Ad and the rest of us.

                • Instauration

                  That’s a bit weird MS

                  You ask a question;

                  “Are you aware of the plans for development which have forced the Government against its will to support the CRL” ?

                  Then I say no – please tell me – ” these clandestine development plans” ?

                  Then you default to “you will have to talk to the Government to find out the development plans.”

                  Like ! – I know and respect your pedigree of compelling reason and logic ? – can’t do that here.

            • Instauration 2.5.1.2.1.2

              Did you actually read “Bernard Hickey ‘s ” opinion ?
              A reasoned comment on his research and published thinking is more appropriate than a question of my tenancy.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.5.2

        The CRL improves transport right across Auckland.

        • stunned mullet 2.5.2.1

          North of the bridge ?

          • Draco T Bastard 2.5.2.1.1

            Once the train goes across there as well, yes. And, yes, that will happen we really have no choice no matter what the RWNJs say.

            A good city/society doesn’t use cars for personal transport as they’re highly inefficient and uneconomic.

        • Instauration 2.5.2.2

          Cool – but please let us consider the option of transportation avoidance.
          Just a bit cheaper.
          Like – “work where I live” – “live where I work”

        • Instauration 2.5.2.3

          But – why force everyone to the same geographical locale at the same time ?
          Just weird – I work in Agile environments where I primarily communicate with peers < 100m away (same floor) by Hipchat / SFB.
          Yet – we each endure the same motorway / “public transport” ordeal to "our" anointed building.
          I can Hipchat from anywhere !

  3. Sirenia 3

    The most massive infrastructure project was actually the main trunk railway line from the north to the south of NZ. This is big, but just in Auckland.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yeah, but this wee project will make an enormous difference to the 1.4 million people in Auckland. Far more people than NZ even had during the period of the construction of the main trunk lines.

      It will move a pile of people off the roads and into trains during peak periods. That means that we will get an ability to handle the current population and maybe have enough to handle the flood of immigration that National is giving us. What was that? 68 thousand people last year – most of whom settled in Auckland.

      Provided National doesn’t give us another setback in housing like their infamous decrees that gave us more than a decade of fixing leaky housing (they really are that damn stupid!), we may continue to provide the sustainable growing parts of our export economy.

    • Ad 3.2

      This one is already well over $3b, even before the variations and delays come in.
      By cost it’s the biggest.

      There’s easily 15-20% further to come.

  4. dukeofurl 4

    National has decided ‘infrastructure” works well with focus groups. Since since half its budget spend on infrastructure is IRDs new computer software, it wants to see more diggers and excavators.

    The SHA process was supposed to be the carrot 5 years ago to boost supply but just became another form of landbanking and after threats to developers to cancel their development approvals just forced Nick Smith into a new trapeze act. He should have his own act with Cirque Soleil, you know one of those bumbling clowns who can do amazing somersaults while at the same time falling off a bicycle.

  5. ianmac 5

    Phil Twyford was on Morning Report after being briefed about the NHS, and said it is nothing like as lethal as Key/Smith reckoned it would be.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201803011

    • Ad 5.1

      You may well be right; it might not change much at all.
      It’s the lack of policy and programme alignment that bothers me.

      • adam 5.1.1

        I agree – There is no policy alignment – it seems more policy on the fly, like the bridges in Northland.

  6. John shears 6

    Sadly the present Govt.hates trains and Kiwi Rail. We have an electrified rail through most of the NIMT but not the last bit, Hamilton to Auckland and of course not north to Kumeu and all the other green fields in that area that they want to open for development.
    Rail is used by other clear thinking communities worldwide as the smart efficient and best way to move people and products but not NZ or at least not the present govt.
    Wellington , a much smaller community than Auckland , is able to operate because of their extensive rail system which has been operating since the late 1930’s and people can commute from quite a distance efficiently.
    One of the other expensive services that massive development requires is an efficient means of disposing of the wastewater that will be produced apart from its treatment. Most of the western sewage is sent to Mangere and the main sewer is at capacity and has been for some time.

    It is not just a matter of saying that land outside the present boundaries is now allowed to be used for housing as John & Nick seem to be suggesting.

    • Ad 6.1

      National’s funding record on rail passenger subsidy, Kiwirail subsidy, and propping rail up to this date has been massive in budgetary terms. It’s simply not compared to the same support provided to motorways. The key is to change the allocation process within NZTA so that motorways and rail are compared together when they are funded. I see some signs of moves towards this.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      It is not just a matter of saying that land outside the present boundaries is now allowed to be used for housing as John & Nick seem to be suggesting.

      National doesn’t think of details. They never do which is why their policies always fail.

      In this case they’re just thinking about building housing and how their mates will get richer from that alone. They’re not thinking of the all the support services that those houses will need to make them work.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    The Opposition demanded that the National Government do something about housing, so the National Government is going to look like it is doing something about housing.

    Next.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      But nothing about making it affordable. The houses will be built to keep the overseas flight capital market rolling along gangbusters … the people in garages don’t count.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        If we are serious about actual affordability = house price = 4x household annual income or less, then some seriously different thinking is going to have to happen.

        There’s no sign of that from Wellington, on any side of the House.

        • BM 7.1.1.1

          Probably because it’s not currently feasible or politically wise.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            Well it’s not feasible within the current set of options on the table, and it’s not politically wise according to the establishment players who chose the current set of options on the table, so in that sense I can agree with you 100%.

            • BM 7.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s not politically wise to crash house prices and put 100’s of thousands of voters financially under water.

              That’s the big problem, house prices are far to high and need to decrease in value but how do you do that without financially destroying many many people.

              • The New Student

                That’s why investment carries this thing called risk.

                • BM

                  The government of the day intervening in the property market and crashing the value of your house is not really a risk one would take into account in a modern democratic country.

                  The government who did that would also have a very short life span and probably wouldn’t see power again for at least the next 50 years.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The government of the day intervening in the property market and crashing the value of your house is not really a risk one would take into account in a modern democratic country.

                    Yes it is as the government has to act in the interests of all the people and not just those over extended because of a housing bubble.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Grow up mate and realise it is the lives and futures of people you are talking about. People who want a home to live and raise a family in, not an “investment.”

                • That’s why investment carries this thing called risk.

                  “Risk” covers a lot of territory.

                  If you’re an investor, the risk’s not that big, unless you leveraged yourself up the wazoo. Your tenants are paying the mortgages, so unless something happens that forces you to sell multiple properties you can ride it out. You’ll make a lot less than you expected to, but that’s life.

                  But if you have a mortgage on a total of one property, that you’re living in, you don’t call that property an “investment,” you call it your home and you don’t consider living in a house to be a “risk.” So, if the government trashes property values and you’re suddenly paying a mortgage that’s worth a lot more than your house, the government has flushed all that money you saved for a deposit down the toilet and left you bankrupt in all but name. The government that does that to you is unlikely to be getting your party vote at the next election.

                  • BM

                    Problem that also arises is that the banks leading ratio on your property then becomes out of whack and they may ask you to stump up with more money to correct it.

                    That could be another 50k you have to suddenly find.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    But if you have a mortgage on a total of one property, that you’re living in, you don’t call that property an “investment,” you call it your home and you don’t consider living in a house to be a “risk.”

                    Have you considered the entity that’s actually taking the risk in that situation?

                    HINT: It’s not the householder.
                    HINT: When you loan someone money you’re taking the risk that you’re not going to get it back.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      ?

                      That’s one way of looking at it.

                      The second way of looking at it is ending up homeless with the money you put in to your house gone in a puff of smoke is a way bigger risk than the one the bank takes as they are still going to make over a billion dollars profit in the first half of the year.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I’m specifically saying that it’s the bank that should take the loss and not the home owner.

              • Colonial Viper

                BM: there are many areas around the country where building $250K to $300K houses won’t “crash” house prices in the least…

                • BM

                  What would you get for $300K ?,how many bedrooms, bathrooms, section size?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 500m2 section, 95m2 house with car port. Do them all off the same half dozen or so designs, with different colours and finishings of course. Profit margins would be low so the govt may have to do some of the building itself as per the old days.

                    • BM

                      Not a lot then.

                      What gets me is around 10 years ago in Hamilton you could buy a
                      brand new 4 bedroom 2 bathroom with en suite, connected double garage on a 600 m2 section for around 300 k.

                      Some isn’t quite right.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      hmmmmm

              • dukeofurl

                Why was it financially wise to crash interest rates then ?

                All those people with term deposits were heavily affected

                • Enough is Enough

                  The two are completely different

                  The underlying cash investment wouldn’t decrease if you crash interest rates.

                  You have $100 in the bank, rather than making 10% interest this year, you make 2%. You haven’t lost any money.

                  As opposed to you spend $100 on a house. The market crashes by 25%. You have lost $25 of your investment.

                  • BM

                    It’s worse than that.

                    You invest $100 and buy a house worth $1000. The market crashes by 25%. You have lost all of your investment + another $150.

                    The other side of leverage you don’t hear about

                    • Enough is Enough

                      Yeah exactly.

                      Hence why homeowners (which is still the majority) do not want to hear about prices coming back at all

                    • dukeofurl

                      Interest rates rising to 8% will crash the market all by itself

                    • Enough is Enough

                      But that won’t happen.

                      Interest rates will inevitably rise again but there will necer be sharp increase from say 4-8%. There will be incremental increases which won’t result in a shock.

                  • dukeofurl

                    Your principal is ‘sortof’ protected , where does the fine print say your house price is protected?

                    Its a common occurence in history and happened in NZ in many parts of country from 2008-2012. of course house owners dont have to sell if the price drops.
                    Mortgagee sales get lower prices all the time.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Interest rates fell from 8.25% to 3% from jun 2008 to march 2009
                      Thats less than a year for 5.25% drop

                      Thats a black swan sailing right in your face. Just because it went down doesnt mean it cant go up, driven by world events.

              • Alastair

                That’s assuming that everyone bought their houses in the last few years. In practice, most house owners would be little affected by a house price crash as they would have bought their property before they doubled in cost.

                All it means is that if they move, the difference in price between what they sell and what they buy is possibly less than what it may have been before a crash in prices.

                Possibly a lot more voters would benefit from being able to afford to buy.

                The negative effects of a house price crash are overrated.

    • Lanthanide 7.2

      The Opposition demanded that the National Government do something practical about housing.

      The National Government has settled for merely doing something.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    This policy directive provides the government with explicit powers to undo the Auckland Plan and Draft Unitary Plan’s clear direction towards rail travel, other public transport, and higher density residential and commercial investment and city living.

    In other words, to undo what most Aucklanders actually want. Auckland is going to be pissed. So much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone in Auckland, excepting Epson who will do as they’re told, will vote National or their support parties.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    Phil Twyford said he was fully briefed on the new National Policy Statement or whatever it is, and that he doesn’t think it’s going to make any difference. John Key and Bill English had both been hinting that there would be some measure of affordability-to-income test in it, but Phil said there’s nothing in there at all.

    Apparently yesterday John Key started backpeddling and saying that it “wouldn’t be a silver bullet” for Auckland’s housing problems, as he had been suggesting it would be last week.

    Seems like some policy analysts got on board and said the affordability-to-income test wouldn’t be practicable, and it was dropped, so now the thing ends up being an exercise in waffle.

  10. save nz 10

    Also the cost of public transport. It costs $4.50 to go 2 stages on the bus in Auckland. So for approx 6KM or a 12km distance you pay $9.00 (return). That is why people drive when the cost of petrol for the same journey is $1.20! Having private operators and complicated structures (COO’s etc) being subsidised but still having high fares for poor and erratic service is part of the problem.

    So as well as getting more public transport via rail they need to ditch all these corporate subsidies and go back to basics and just run it themselves from the council in my view and get the fares lowered. The profits from transport can go back to the ratepayers instead of all these complicated COO structures with arrogant idiots wrecking the city while still providing expensive poor service.

    As for being further out for public transport – forget it – what is there is so woeful only those who have lost their licenses use it.

    As for moronic Key to the rescue with his housing policy and government dictatorship take over and corporatise Auckland even more, we are still paying a billion for his failed crony IT policy for the supercity that still does not work!

    And National’s leaky building sydrome did more to delay housing work than any other policy apart from their equally moronic immigration “financial hub/aka tax haven for crony crime” vision for the country – getting as many crims and dodgy characters to buy up property and assets here so locals have to live in tents!

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Also the cost of public transport. It costs $4.50 to go 2 stages on the bus in Auckland. So for approx 6KM or a 12km distance you pay $9.00 (return).

      Or, if you get a HOP card, $3.10 Yes, people get a serious discount for not using cash.

      That is why people drive when the cost of petrol for the same journey is $1.20!

      But it’s not just the cost of petrol. There’s also insurance, parking, WOF, registration, tyres and other mechanical wear and tear on the vehicle and the massive pollution that results in a few hundred people dying early every year. Once you take all that into account plus the time to do it all then the bus actually works out a lot cheaper.

      And then there’s reality. Cars use far more resources than public transport ever will and so are actually far cheaper and it’s only through the economies of scale applied incorrectly (on sales rather than on number of people to resources used) that it appears ‘cheaper’. It’s a serious part of the delusion of our present socio-economic system.

      Having private operators and complicated structures (COO’s etc) being subsidised but still having high fares for poor and erratic service is part of the problem.

      That is true. It would be far cheaper and far more efficient if AT just did it themselves but, unfortunately, the government is still holding on to the lie that private companies driven by profit always do it better. Still, At have changed the way that the bus routes and contracts with the private providers work in that the bus companies get a fixed amount and AT get all the income which has increased efficiency some. Still got the inefficient multiple private companies to deal with though which cost more due to the dead-weight loss of profit.

    • Sacha 10.2

      “It costs $4.50 to go 2 stages on the bus”

      That’s the cash price – it’s $3.10 with a HOP card (which the price difference is meant to get more people using):
      https://at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/fares-discounts/bus-train-fares/

      Most of us do not take into account all the costs associated with a car like maintenance and insurance and finance if you’ve borrowed to buy it. The most common reasons I’ve heard for driving are that public transport does not go frequently and reliably enough to where people want to go. Improving that requires a denser city, and many people will always drive anyway. It’s the other options that are lacking.

      • BM 10.2.1

        The big problem is most New Zealanders really aren’t excited about high density iving, we like our space, which is hardly surprising looking at how NZ has developed over the last 100 years,

        It’s going to take decades for New Zealanders to develop a enthusiasm for high density housing.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.2.1.1

          The big problem is most New Zealanders really aren’t enthused about high density, we like our space, which is hardly surprising looking at how NZ has developed over the last 100 years,

          Cultural baggage rather than lived experience. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people will find apartment living far better than sprawl – once they get round to doing it. I know I did.

          It’s going to take decades for New Zealanders to develop a enthusiasm for high density housing.

          Not really. All the mid to high density houses here in west Auckland are full and people living there seem happy with it. What’s missing is the choice for high density living and that comes down to the government disallowing it rather than people not wanting it.

          Now, why would the government disallow high density living?

          • BM 10.2.1.1.1

            I have nothing against high density housing for many people especially recently arrived immigrants, high density is all they’ve known or want.

            For the majority of native New Zealanders though , they still want a bit of space, somewhere the kids can run around and play outside, invite your mates over for a BBQ or grow a garden.

            Going forward the answer is to have a combination of the two with green fields development making up at least 50% of new housing especially for the next ten years or so.

            After a decade you start slowly upping the ratio of high density to green field.

            • Sacha 10.2.1.1.1.1

              There is big demand for denser housing types already. Many migrants and returning expats have seen what that style of living is like and want it here. Many younger people also tend to value being closer to where they work and play and they would rather use public transit than drive.

              Sure, a sizeable chunk of the population wants a suburban house and garden but we already have plenty of those.

              Properly-developed density provides lots of shared public spaces for kids to run around in.

            • dukeofurl 10.2.1.1.1.2

              The households with only one or two people are now the largest group. And increasing.

              This is why smaller houses and higher density are taking off. Single lot homes have been getting larger so they have priced themselves out of the market for those who dont need all that space.

            • dukeofurl 10.2.1.1.1.3

              Its 2016 not 1966. Small households are the norm now.

            • Stuart Munro 10.2.1.1.1.4

              Cost changes plans. Many or most kiwis want a 10 acre block. Quite a few make do with rather less. If high density living offered the savings it should, it would under Key’s austere economic nightmare, be very attractive to those whose earnings have not been keeping pace. Most people.

        • adam 10.2.1.2

          No one is arguing for high density BM, well I hope they are not, as high density is a sociological disaster. What we need is medium density, which will help no end. At present we stuck with very low density and this is a major problem.

        • gnomic 10.2.1.3

          For some utterly incomprehensible reason you seem to think to think you are a pundit. Alas you are in fact a ninny. Please just go away for ever. And never presume to speak on behalf of New Zealanders. Twerp.

      • save nz 10.2.2

        Yep I understand, but the HOP is really just a way to rip people off who don’t have a HOP card. So a poor person who can’t afford the HOP, infrequent users, tourists, people who do not have time or inclination to investigate HOP, non english speakers etc. And all the problems with the HOP card, the cost of the technology etc

        Keep it all simple is my view.

        That’s why people like the Kittens and Road Cops 2 – life used to be simple – but now you can’t even catch a bus without needing additional knowledge (HOP is cheaper) and being ripped off.

        I’m for public transport by the way, I understand about the car, but most people have a car and have to pay all that anyway – so the reality is, they are being ripped off even with a hop card because the petrol is $1.20

        I’m advocating that if they were more efficient and cheaper with less privatisation and COO structures more people would use it and then more benefits to society ….

        Would love to be able to hop on a train running every 20 mins to Hamilton (maybe not Hamilton but you get my point!) and at a price cheaper than the petrol… likewise transport now.

        • save nz 10.2.2.1

          By the way when I lived in an apartment in central Auckland I used the trains. Was fantastic! Was something like $1.50 per stage and they had loads of train attendants and you could pay on the train. Fantastic!

          I have heard now they have changed it, increased the fares, cut down on the staff (with increased crime and vandalism) and you can’t pay on the trains!

          That is what is so wrong with neoliberalism!!!!

          They downgrade the service and increase the prices and less people use it and then they get more subsidies from the government to run it and the dumbo execs pat themselves on the back and give themselves a pay rise! Meanwhile more Kiwis on the dole queue with jobs like train attendants going, or these days WINZ make them do an 84 page application and not give them the dole so they are just committing crimes or homeless.

          How much is that costing – free accommodation at Serco $90,000 per annum per person, plus police, court costs etc…. or homeless motel accommodation at $60,000 per year per person and the costs of administering it all…

          This government is bonkers – we really are in the rabbit hole of Plunderland!

          • Draco T Bastard 10.2.2.1.1

            I have heard now they have changed it, increased the fares, cut down on the staff (with increased crime and vandalism) and you can’t pay on the trains!

            You pay before you get on the train and get fined if you haven’t. Pretty sure I haven’t seen any increase in crime and AT is addressing that to.

            They downgrade the service and increase the prices and less people use it

            There’s been no downgrade of the service. In fact, I’d say that the service has improved. Numbers of people using trains in Auckland is sky-rocketing as those services get better.

            • adam 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Draco T Bastard still problems on late night services. Especially on southern line.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.2.2.2

          Yep I understand, but the HOP is really just a way to rip people off who don’t have a HOP card.

          No, really it isn’t. People who pay cash really do cost more. More time, more infrastructure, more security concerns and other stuff that I’ve probably missed.

          So a poor person who can’t afford the HOP, infrequent users, tourists, people who do not have time or inclination to investigate HOP, non english speakers etc.

          It doesn’t cost that much to buy and then you get massive savings. As far as tourists go I think a HOP card should be given to them when they get to NZ free but that would require that all PT services use the same card which brings us back to being a cashless society.

          Non-English speakers could be better catered for with good transport apps and a help desk.

          Keep it all simple is my view.

          Actually, you’re advocating for the exact reverse. It’s more complicated and time consuming to use cash.

          I’m for public transport by the way, I understand about the car, but most people have a car and have to pay all that anyway – so the reality is, they are being ripped off even with a hop card because the petrol is $1.20

          The car is the rip off. It costs far more for no benefit.

          Would love to be able to hop on a train running every 20 mins to Hamilton (maybe not Hamilton but you get my point!) and at a price cheaper than the petrol… likewise transport now.

          Unfortunately, the idiots in both government and At still believe in the delusional economies of scale.

          • Sacha 10.2.2.2.1

            HOP also speeds up boarding over cash, so journeys take less time from end to end. That benefits everyone.

            • save nz 10.2.2.2.1.1

              With the trains there was no time wasted when you could buy your ticket on the train.

              I know giving someone a job is frowned on under neoliberalism – but people i.e. train attendants are actually are better than technology in a country with such a small population and you can also ask them questions about your stop and they increase the safety.

              • save nz

                I bettcha with the disaster IT of HOP it is the HOP subsidising the cash users.

              • Draco T Bastard

                but people i.e. train attendants are actually are better than technology in a country with such a small population

                Nope, they’re not. The trains are already crowded and so putting more conductors on removes room for passengers (The whole point of mass transit) and because of that crowding means that the conductors can’t actually see everybody anyway. Hell, I’ve seen trains so packed that the conductors couldn’t move through the train.

          • Sacha 10.2.2.2.2

            Cars have their advantages, to be fair, especially where someone is dropping off children or going to the shops or sports after work, that sort of scenario.

            • save nz 10.2.2.2.2.1

              Nope the trains were great if you had kids – easier than buses.

          • Anno1701 10.2.2.2.3

            have you tried to ACTUALLY use a hop card ?

            the system is completely hopeless for LOTS of reasons beyond price, In fact id call it a failure IMO

            • save nz 10.2.2.2.3.1

              I have heard the IT of HOP was a disaster! The usual crony tender run by idiots at AT.

              We don’t need HOP we need TRAINS. We don’t need bureaucrats in multiple COO’s – we need TRAIN DRIVERS and TRAIN ATTENDANTS and TRAIN TRACKS.

              NZ is like the third world, (but without public transport) and we need a public transport system that people can afford not 10% of someones minimum wage for a 2 stage bus ticket.

              • Draco T Bastard

                You’re ranting.

                Nothing of what you said is true.

                • save nz

                  If you read what you said it confirms what I am saying.

                  You say trains are overcrowded – solution more trains.

                  Minimum wage is 15.25 so an 8 hour day is $122 less tax so if you travel 2 stages per day on the bus without HOP $9 so approx 10% of your income. To me that does not seem reasonable.

                  And I know someone who was involved in the tender of HOP and their view was it was not run in a reasonable way and there were technical problems post tender. It was awarded to Thaleys, I think. Yep that was 2nd hand but the person complaining was a very accomplished honest person who worked globally and I believe them.

                  Maybe the people complaining of HOP used it when it first came in, and now they ironed it out – hence discrepancy of opinions.

                  Also maybe people are complaining about it being useless as a piece of technology rather than user experience.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    You say trains are overcrowded – solution more trains.

                    Which we’ve got and are getting even more.

                    Minimum wage is 15.25 so an 8 hour day is $122 less tax so if you travel 2 stages per day on the bus without HOP $9 so approx 10% of your income. To me that does not seem reasonable.

                    Look for work closer or, even better, have the business pay your travel. I’m pretty sure that they’ll quickly buy you a HOP card.

                    And I know someone who was involved in the tender of HOP and their view was it was not run in a reasonable way and there were technical problems post tender.

                    Anecdote. What we need for such claims is a peer reviewed study.

                    Maybe the people complaining of HOP used it when it first came in, and now they ironed it out – hence discrepancy of opinions.

                    Which still means that they’re ranting in ignorance. Also there’s been two cards on buses in Auckland and the first one did have problems in that it was incompatible with HOP and had to be replaced.

                    Also maybe people are complaining about it being useless as a piece of technology rather than user experience.

                    And now you’re really reaching. As a technology it’s fine, works fine and is really easy to use.

            • Ad 10.2.2.2.3.2

              I use it every day and love it.

              Only thing better than HOP I’ve used is the London Card but that was £90 for a week(!)
              But we thrashed it to get full value over 7 days.

              • Anno1701

                “I’ve used is the London Card ”

                i used the oyster card for 4 years, now THERE is a great system/card

                • Ad

                  Agreed Oyster is good.
                  HOP will shortly be expanded to be loaded for car parking buildings as well.

            • Draco T Bastard 10.2.2.2.3.3

              have you tried to ACTUALLY use a hop card ?

              On a daily basis along with tens of thousands of other people. Never had a problem – along with tens of thousands of other people who also daily fail to have a problem with it.

              the system is completely hopeless for LOTS of reasons beyond price

              Start listing them.

              In fact id call it a failure IMO

              And I’d call you an ignoramus due to your unsubstantiated BS.

              • save nz

                Draco, now you’re ranting.

              • Anno1701

                “And I’d call you an ignoramus due to your unsubstantiated BS.”

                you just sound like a straight up dick to be fair

                so i guess that makes us even then ?

                “unsubstantiated” pffftttt what like the train network/hop card is some kind of secret brotherhood only the few can access and assess ?

                Given the fact that AT them selves ADMIT that they around a 75-78% “success rate” on my part of the network, which mean about 1 out 4 ( !! ) trains dont show up on time (if at all) this whole exercise is academic, its cheaper,faster and more reliable for me to just take my car which i now do…

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Given the fact that AT them selves ADMIT that they around a 75-78% “success rate” on my part of the network

                  [citation needed]

                  • Anno1701

                    “[citation needed]”

                    waste your own time. not mine

                    ive done enough of that f*#king around with our sub-standard public transport network

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      You’re the one who made the claim, now back it up else we’ll just have to conclude that you were talking out your arse.

            • Macro 10.2.2.2.3.4

              My wife and I used our HOP cards yesterday – we live in Thames and have a Gold card so travel on Auckland Public transport is free after 9 am. As we were going to the CBD to the Public Library and the Art Gallery for the day it made sense to park and ride at Papakura. This was our first use of the new trains here, and we were very impressed. Almost up to the services in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. The downside is the frequency of service (The Mandjurah line in Perth runs every 10 mins). That needs to be increased and the new tunnel will assist in that as I gather the bottleneck in the rail system now is Britomart. The trains both ways were well patronised for the time of the day which was very good to see. There can be no doubt that this is a far better way of travel than by private car. Had we driven on from Papakura into the city we would have had to face around an extra hour of driving each way at the very least. The train trip was around 40 mins each way. Then there was the problem of parking at an horrendous cost, as well as the frustration of sitting idling in bumper to bumper traffic on a motorway.
              I agree that the cost for non concessionary travel needs to be lower. Thank you Winston for the Gold Card – but that concession needs to extend to far more people than those in receipt of super. Perhaps as patronage continues to increase the fares can be slowly decreased as revenue increases.

              • Ad

                Western Australia is at least a decade in front of Auckland’s still relatively low investment in rail.

                Auckland Transport are driven by the central government requirement to decrease the amount of public transport subsidy per fare per person. Increasing the subsidy and hence decreasing the price is in reality for another, better government to do.

                • ropata

                  Calling it a “subsidy” doesn’t help, when our ridiculous and expensive over indulgence in cars and trucks and mega motorways have other more horrible costs not measured in $$$ but in crappier quality of life.

                  Public transport is an investment in a healthier future, less gridlock, and better options for kids/youth/elderly/people without a license

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    +1

                  • Ad

                    It’s a subsidy because that’s how to accurately account and describe it in both the AT/AC and NZTA/central government funding.

                    Public transport is indeed all of those things you say, if it works. It works by being well funded, by the taxpayer.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It works by being well funded, by the taxpayer.

                      And is then used by the taxpayer.

                      Doesn’t sound like a subsidy to me.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The downside is the frequency of service (The Mandjurah line in Perth runs every 10 mins).

                Trains every ten minutes is in the plan:

                The City Rail Link (CRL) will unlock the city’s rail capacity, doubling the number of trips an hour during peak times and providing a train every 10 minutes for most Auckland stations.

                Unfortunately, due to the fuckup of several governments over the last century, it can’t be done until the CRL is finished. Just imagine how good it would be if it had actually been started in the 1920s.

  11. save nz 11

    Excellent article – extract –

    “The New Zealand government is trying to exploit Auckland’s housing crisis rather than to solve it or to ease it. Its agenda appears to be threefold: to unseat a non-compliant Council, to force the sale of productive assets owned by the people of Auckland, and to reward those who seek to financially profit by holding rural land.”

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/06/02/must-read-a-greek-style-fiscal-crisis-in-auckland/#comment-339329

    • Johan 11.1

      To: save nz
      Precisely!!! Making more land available to ease the housing crisis will further increase the real problem of providing affordable housing for “our own people”. Individuals with money, whether offshore residents with $ mega-millions to invest or resident Kiwis with property portfolios of 100+ houses will snap up available new homes. All this is a futile exercise, and only makes the well off richer.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        All this is a futile exercise, and only makes the well off richer.

        So that would be National doing exactly what National’s there for then – making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

      • save nz 11.1.2

        And the ratepayers and tax payers will have to pay for the infrastructure for the governments new housing, roads, transport, water, power and so forth in the form of more rates or taxes, and the beneficiaries for the most part don’t even live or pay taxes here – it is crazy.

        It’s also destroying our other exports like agriculture and tourism. The appeal of NZ is the ‘pure’ landscapes and green image not really 6 lane clogged highways and diggers and high rises with empty houses, wadable water and homeless begging on the streets. Sounds like the public transport is full to capacity as well.

        The locals are subsidising the ‘gold bricks’ for the super rich to store money in around the world and migrants who want a 2nd passport. I don’t care if a few super rich come here if they contribute in a real way – jobs, environment etc That is not happening under National – they are attracting the super rich tax avoiders, polluters, property investers and criminals with their 0% tax havens.

        It is not even fair to the old migrants who have paid taxes here for years and are on local wages either. They are pushed out as much as everyone else!

        • Johan 11.1.2.1

          Don’t forget National’s other goal is to privatise Auckland assets. At this moment, there is no way that Auckland City can afford the infrastructure cost.

          • Draco T Bastard 11.1.2.1.1

            National’s end goal is to privatise everything and turn us back into a full feudal society with the majority of people being impoverished serfs.

  12. Observer Toke 12

    .At: Save NZ

    . ” NZ is like the third world, (but without public transport) and we need a public transport system that people can afford …..”

    I like your writing and read it often, but I do disagree with you comparing NZ with Auckland.

    Wellington for instance has superb transport and has had it since the 1930s. Christchurch used to have a good transport system going back to the 1920’s. The – recent earthquakes may have caused serious interruption. But we know that the Cantabrians will see to their transport.

    Dunedin from memory has good transport too. I think Hamilton also does transport effectively.

    So – the third world city in New Zealand is Auckland. It is a town of modest goals and modest achievement. It will always be going around in circles. It always has,

    Yes I am aware it has got the gambling den “Sky City”, and the “Eden park” for young ones to play rugby.

    • save nz 12.1

      I agree with you Observer Toke and great to know NZ does have some great public transport!

      Unfortunately the third world woes of Auckland are spreading to a town near you as the prices rise and more people come in…. We are just ground zero.

  13. jcuknz 13

    What is ignored in all this ranting and raving is that people can live anywhere but food only grows on PRODUCTIVE LAND … so if that PL is taken for housing what will the people live on …. OK we will import it but will we have enough income to pay for it.
    The area south of Auckland is a natural market garden with the ability to grow greens. But who needs greens when KFC and Big Mac is around the corner ? Sarc.

    The problem is all the NIMBYs in auckland stopping the city coming of its age and density and encouraging the foolish short term thinking polies to destroy the country’s food supply by enlarging the housing cover.

    For awhile now I have realised that National are a bunch of incompetent and bumbling idiots but I think I would add John Key and Bill English to the list now.
    The trouble is “would the alternative be any better?”

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      The problem is all the NIMBYs in auckland stopping the city coming of its age and density and encouraging the foolish short term thinking polies to destroy the country’s food supply by enlarging the housing cover.

      I think you’ll find that most people in Auckland are quite willing to accept higher density. The problems areas are the rich, well to do areas which also have the loudest voice because they actually have the resources available to make a noise.

      NZ could easily feed itself by having farms on only 15% of the land area. We presently have farms on over 50%.

      • vto 13.1.1

        Now that is a good idea. Reduce farming to just 15% of the land, instead of 50%..

        For those that visit Banks Peninsula and Akaroa.. a beautiful locale which has been wrought barren by the deeds of farming – barren hills burnt dry by the northwester and sun, supporting but a few measly sheep and fewer families…

        … now cast your mind back to when Banks Peninsula was covered head to toe in giant ancient podocarp forest – pure native totara, rimu, etc forest laden to overflow with bird, animal, insect, flora and fauna. Thick green beautiful. Picture it. Picture it in existence right now today.

        Contrast and compare

        it is what some call a no-brainer

      • jcuknz 13.1.2

        OK so we feed ourselves on 15% but what about exports to pay for medication, TV programmes, royalties to Big Mac and KFC? to add some sensible things and the frivalties … NZ is a trading nation … or supposed to be one but lefties seem to ignore that commerce is an essential part of our largely good life apart from the bad bits emerging to prominence today.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.1.2.1

          OK so we feed ourselves on 15% but what about exports to pay for medication, TV programmes, royalties to Big Mac and KFC?

          We don’t need to ruin our environment for those and we shouldn’t do so. Doing so is unsustainable. Personally I’d like to see those ~100,000 people shifted into high-tech R&D and producing high value products instead. Like medicines in fact.

          Did you know that the US government funds the development of ~75% of new medicines produced in the US? Costs about $9 billion. If NZ did the same at the same amount it would employ about 100,000 people. In other words, about the same number that we would no longer be employing on farms and we’d probably get better returns on what they do.

          Of course, doing that would require more and better education provided free. But, ATM, we have well over 100,000 unemployed so that wouldn’t really be a problem either. Well within what we can afford to do.

          It would take time to adjust but that’s ok to. The adjustment itself would cause huge amounts of employment.

          Where would we get the money from to do all this I hear you ask? Create it.

          Oh, and if Maccers and KFC aren’t happy about the amount of royalties that they’re getting then they can fuck off. You know, just like they’re supposed to do in a capitalist system when they’re not paid.

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