June’s Metro contains an article by Chris Harris called ‘The Ticky Tacky Death of a Dream’. According to the article, 127 hectares of prime urban land in Albany, publicly owned by the Housing Corporation, were sold to a Malaysian-owned land development consortium for $21 million, or the equivalent of $15,000 a quarter acre section. Most or all of the land was zoned commercial. But a quarter acre comparison gives a ballpark idea of the giveaway involved.
The abovementioned sale happened in 1994 when Murray McCully was Minister of Housing. Housing Corporation files that would have revealed the number of bidders, or in fact whether there were any at all, proved impossible to discover. There was, apparently, a big binning exercise when its name was changed from Housing Corporation of New Zealand to Housing New Zealand Corporation soon after the Labour coalition took power in 1999.
During the 1990s the Northern Motorway was extended out to Albany, and beyond. A Transit New Zealand PR newsletter from 2000 describes successive Northern Motorway extensions as ‘open[ing the] north for development‘ .
Transit New Zealand was the government’s state highway planning and construction authority at the time, functions now taken over by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
For much of the 1990s the head of Transit New Zealand was an Albany accountant and National party appointee, who later resurfaced as the head of the Waitemata Trust, in charge of organising National’s campaign funding donations. This fact was outed by Irene Chapple in the Sunday Star-Times (10 September 2006), and David Parker mentioned it in Parliament as well.
Could the same logic have anything to do with the Holiday Highway I wonder? Is it not Kamo and Kaikohe that the Holiday Highway is opening up for development but, rather, the more immediately adjacent Hibiscus Coast?
After all, if Northland freight is the issue, why not focus on improving the rural parts of State Highway 16 and the one-track railway that both run between Wellsford and Watakere down the Kaipara coast? The accessibility of that area is also going to be increased by the Waterview tunnel. But of course the Kaipara isn’t nearly as sexy for developers as the Hibiscus Coast, where the Holiday Highway will go.
More to the point, just how many favours have National done for developers over the years? Is it any coincidence that Nicky Hager’s Hollow Men are all Shore Boys?
Those readers who may remember watching ‘For the public good’ will recall that similar questions were asked about the original Rogernomes, also Auckland-based by the way. But they’re long gone from Labour politics.
Whereas, the continuities between 1994-vintage National and 2011-vintage National remain strong.
New South Wales has just banned political party contributions from developers. Should New Zealand be considering the same?