Maritime Union of New Zealand media release: Maritime Union criticizes shroud of secrecy over Port of Auckland privatization plan


Maritime Union criticizes shroud of secrecy over Port of Auckland privatization plan

Maritime Union of New Zealand media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday 30 August 2023

The Maritime Union says it is alarmed information around the proposed sale of Port of Auckland is being “cloaked and concealed.”

The Chief Omsbudsman is investigating the refusal of Auckland City to release documentation around the proposed sale to media.

Maritime Union Auckland Branch Local 13 Secretary Russell Mayn says Auckland ratepayers should be worried their most important asset was being prepared for sale in a secretive process.

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“The whole privatization agenda is flawed, from the lack of transparency, the potential for damage to the economy, and no clear plan for the future of New Zealand’s largest import port.”

Mr Mayn says there is a great deal of confusion about what the long term agenda for the Port of Auckland is, with a simultaneous push to privatize port operations, relocate the port, and to turn the waterfront into a fun park.

“None of these agendas seem to take the role of the Port of Auckland as a central driver of the Auckland and national economy seriously.”

Mr Mayn says Auckland councillors need to be aware how negative downstream consequences of a sale of the Port will reflect on their position.

He says the potential for price gouging and a rapid increase in port charges by private port operators is very real and had occurred in Australia.

The main benefit from privatization so far seemed to be for consultants involved in the dismemberment of local assets.

A payment of a secret NZ$1.425 million fee to Australian consultants Flagstaff was made following the sale of a portion of its shareholding in Auckland International Airport.

Flagstaff’s consulting on the potential sale of port operations in Auckland may cost ratepayers even more.

Mr Mayn says a major issue with the proposed sale is the short term mindset of privatization promoters.

“The Port of Auckland functions as our interface with global trade. Its primary importance is as a strategic asset for the long term success of our economy – not as a short term cash fix.”