Colorful Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere has vowed, if elected, to ban trucks from the city of Auckland during the day and sell the Ports of Auckland.
Auckland, New Zealand, has a population of about 1.6 million and covers an area of 425.8 square miles. Ports of Auckland is located on the waterfront in the heart of the city. FreightWaves was told by the multi-cargo Ports of Auckland that there are approximately 24,000 truck movements per month through each of the two main terminals at the port. One is a container terminal the other is a general cargo terminal.
That data indicated that about 576,000 trucking movements take place annually in the city as trucks access and leave the port. In the 2017-2018 financial year the port handled 973,722 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers, 6.77 million tons of cargo and 300,000 vehicles.
Tamihere has vowed to restrict trucking operations so heavy freight vehicles cannot enter the central city area between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. He is reportedly undecided whether the truck exclusion zone should be 5 kilometers (3 miles) or 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the center of the city. A failure to negotiate a daytime exclusion zone for trucks within a year would see Tamihere impose a congestion tax.
Sale of the port
Tamihere has also said he will sell the Ports of Auckland, one of New Zealand’s two leading ports, but retain the 77 hectares of land that the port sits upon for redevelopment.
Auckland is built on an isthmus and the port is built right on the waterfront of the central business district. As such the port is encroached upon by the city on all sides except for the marine-side. Land currently used for port facilities, if released for development, would be very valuable.
Suggestions to move the port reappear in New Zealand’s political scene from time to time as it is widely recognized that the port, as it is currently located, will not be able to cope with long-term trade growth. A Port Future Study in 2016 investigated a variety of options including constraining the port, downsizing the port, relocating trade, growing the port or building a new port.
Industry response was scathing
Local trucking industry representative, the Road Transport Forum, was not in favor of restrictions on trucking or on Tamihere’s plans for moving the port. The Forum is an association-of-associations and, via its member associations, represents 3,000 road transport companies in New Zealand operating 16,000 to 18,000 trucks.
Road Transport Forum CEO Nick Leggett was scathing of Tamihere’s truck and port policy announcement.
“This proposal announced today by mayoral candidate John Tamihere has consequences that have not been thought through and the policy is frankly, lacking in strategy and planning and is ridiculous… Why would you increase the costs of transporting goods in and out of New Zealand’s major city? This proposal would definitely add costs to all the goods in people’s lives that are transported by trucks – which is pretty much everything,” Leggett says.
He points out that Tamihere has not said where the port should move to, and has not said what the truck exclusion would include. He also queried the effect of night-time work on transport workers, the costs to be borne by end-consumers and the costs imposed on New Zealand’s export goods. “What we see is a policy without a strategy or a plan,” Leggett says.
History of controversies
Former shock-jock radio host Tamihere is no stranger to New Zealand politics; he was formerly a member of Parliament from 1999 to 2005. He also served as a Cabinet Minister (a member of the executive branch of government) from August 2002 to early November 2004.
Tamihere has proven controversial previously. He has made outspoken and derogatory comments about gay people, Jewish people, women, feminists and, while working as a radio show host, inappropriate comments to a female guest in the wake of a national scandal involving rape allegations and underage teenagers.
He was also officially warned in 2015 by the country’s official animal protection agency, the SPCA, after he abandoned two of his cats while he was moving from one house to another. The cats were without food or water for 11 days and were rescued after a complaint was made to the SPCA.
When questioned about previous controversies during the announcement of his candidacy for mayor, Tamihere was widely reported as saying, “Here’s the thing, my name is JT not JC. I’m not totally in control of the whole shooting match all the time, I make mistakes. I’ve indicated I own them. What do you want me to do? Jump off the Harbour Bridge?”
Auckland’s mayoral race is proving to be quite colorful. There are 18 candidates including a professional wrestler, a transparency campaigner who refuses to pay her local taxes until the city reveals the destination of every cent of taxpayer money, a communist, an anti-fluoride campaigner, and a man who vows not to “do a single thing as mayor if elected.”
The candidate pool also includes Phil Goff, the current mayor, along with candidates from traditional sectors such as business, former mayoral candidates, the various political parties and special interest groups.
Auckland’s mayoral election will be held on October 12, 2019.