A bit of rain shows up Goff’s house of cards

Phil Goff can demand all he likes, but the city’s basic infrastructure is falling to bits.?Out West successive left-wing councils have neglected infrastructure.

His predecessor’s?insistence on cramming more and more people into the isthmus with intensification to make his train set numbers work has also placed undue pressure on stormwater infrastructure.

A little bit of rain and now Phil Goff is going all vein-popping mad about it all.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is inspecting the flooding aftermath in New Lynn this afternoon after calling for more safeguards to the city’s water supply.

Goff will visit the West Auckland suburb, held up as a poster child for housing intensification, where the stormwater infrastructure failed to cope with yesterday’s rain bomb, flooding flats, shops and opening up a huge sinkhole. ? Read more »

A transport perspective on the Kaikoura Earthquake


A reader, who is connected to the transport industry sent this to me which explains the enormity of the damage from the Kaikoura Earthquake

What a day for the good folk of Kaikoura. It took only seconds to reshape their world completely.

A popular tourist town, on a main highway was turned from a business success story to an isolated outpost, with dwindling food and resources within those few seconds.

Kaikoura is reachable only by air, and one of what I consider to be the best drives in the world is hidden underneath what is estimated to be a million cubic metres of earth. To put that into perspective, that equates to about 750,000 tonnes of soil and rock and trees. That truly is awesome power, in the proper, not popular, use of the word.

For Kaikoura and the small towns of northern Canterbury things are pretty grim. Towns which were benefitting from people moving north out of Christchurch, to avoid earthquakes, have been stuck down. This is a huge mental strike into the minds of these people, and into their deepest, innermost insecurities. A huge blow to their mindset.

There is now nothing to do but to start again and rebuild what has been destroyed and damaged. Some things will never be repaired. Farms and rivers will be scarred forever. Roads and rail will be rebuilt.

The task of rebuilding the transport infrastructure will be dealt with first, and is undoubtedly the most important in national terms. That is not to diminish the efforts to repair personal property, but it is indeed personal property, and not essential for the nation as a whole.

It is easy to forget that Wellington also took a hit, and while the damage appears superficial to those outside, there will still be considerable damage to be repaired in the capital.

Nice gestures from people add some pleasure to the pain.

The Thai lady in Kaikoura who was unable to run her restaurant took all her food and gas cookers to the local campsite, and used it all feeding the people trapped there.

Parliament Buildings were opened to people in Wellington evacuated from their hostels and back packer accommodation to provide food and shelter.

There will be hundreds if not thousands of kind acts done without publicity and for only the good of the people affected by loss. ? Read more »

A warning for Auckland out of Australia



The SMH reports on massive public transport initiatives blowing their budgets:

Transport projects across the country have blown out in cost by at least $28 billion in the past 15 years, according to an independent think-tank.

And the main cause of the cost increases is the tendency of politicians of all persuasions to make promises about road or rail projects before they have been assessed, says the Grattan Institute report, to be released on Monday.

“When ministers and oppositions announced a new highway before a formal funding commitment, these early cost estimates often turn out to be spectacularly wrong,” said the transport program director at the Grattan Institute, Marion Terrill.

Read more »

$1b for councils to get around their own shitty credit rating

When I heard National were handing out $1b to councils, my first question was: Where the hell did Bill English find a spare billion?

The Government says councils facing dire housing shortages are “incredibly enthusiastic” about the $1 billion infrastructure development fund that’s just been announced.

It’s the latest move to tackle the Government’s most pressing problem and Prime Minister John Key says it could help create “tens of thousands” of new homes.

He announced the initiative at the National Party’s annual conference in Christchurch on Sunday.

The fund will be open to councils in areas with high population growth – Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Hamilton.

“I’ve spoken to all five of those councils, they are incredibly enthusiastic about its potential,” Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith told reporters.

“The Government wants pace around housing.” Read more »

Watercare continues the blame game

Watercare appears to be toeing the line of its paymaster Auckland Council who want to continue the blame game regarding housing supply.

Not willing to concede that the Council have stuffed Auckland they are trying desperately to blame everyone – from landowners to property developers – instead of accepting responsibility. Talk about being sensitive.

The property industry and I have been saying for a while that the issue is Council refuse to build the infrastructure and are using sewers, potable water and roads to stymie the expansion of Auckland. Some weeks back I pointed out that there is now only capacity for 45,000 dwellings to connect to the infrastructure.

So what does Auckland Council do? They shove Watercare out to pitch a story about expenditure that’s over a long time frame and to tell a fat pork pie.

Most of the article is talking up a storm about infrastructure works that replace and improve the stuffed existing infrastructure servicing areas of Auckland. It’s not for new areas. It’s all the deferred maintenance and asset management playing catch-up with a bit more capacity to allow for more apartments in certain areas.

Like new big sewer mains that connect central Auckland suburbs back to Mangere and a Hunua water connection that terminates at the water tank in Ponsonby. They are things in places where people already live, not where the city needs to be growing into, like the edges of the city.

Watercare Services is catering for 195,000 new Auckland dwellings in the next decade, and is working to expand the fresh and waste water networks to cope with this growth.

But Raveen Jaduram, Watercare chief executive, admits the organisation does not really expect that many dwellings to be built.

“The actual number will be significantly less but we’re catering for that bigger number. We have to be ahead of the growth so we built infrastructure well before it’s required,” he said. ? Read more »

Penny Hulse blaming everyone but the Council


Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse has come out to blame everyone else for not delivering houses in Auckland.

No, it’s not Auckland Council’s fault. No. No. No. (Squeeze eyes shut and throw tantrum.)

Whilst her comment is typical of the Council,?it is also out of touch – and off-the-planet wrong. She really doesn’t know what she is talking about – and she shows it.

The Property Industry is filled with people who are quick to smell a buck and seize the opportunity to make hay. If the industry isn’t producing more it’s because it can’t. There are things in the way of it.

Penny says that there is plenty of infrastructure-enabled land. That’s a cheap parlour trick because what she means is zoned land within the city: land zoned for apartments and terrace housing, in accordance with their dumb compact city.

The problem with zoned land is that most of it has improvements on it: buildings and houses. Businesses occupy those buildings and they have tenure and don’t want to move. Many businesses own their own buildings.

People live in their homes and don’t want to move. They quite like it. They have made more than a few bucks owning the home and are not commercially minded to sell for a buck to a developer. Besides, where do they go?

And where do all those businesses move too? ? Read more »

Auckland Council admit there is a problem with water infrastructure as well

Watercare have taken offence at my assertions that Auckland infrastructure is stuffed and has 10% capacity remaining in it.

That’s not necessarily their fault – they inherited a legacy of poor management from the seven former Councils and they have a limited capacity to raise funds for more expenditure.

Now they say that the limited capacity isn’t really an issue because they have lots of expenditure planned.

Except that the planned infrastructure is spread over decades and, importantly, it doesn’t fix the issue today. It doesn’t even fix it in the next 5 or 10 years.

Auckland Council even admit that the current infrastructure is stuffed.

Only last week a presentation made by Council’s own Manager for Growth and Infrastructure Strategy, Dawne Mackay, states clearly that they have issues: ? Read more »

Government steps up, a little, for mitigating a problem it created itself


Tourism is booming, but local councils aren’t all able to cope with the increase in visitor numbers. Their infrastructure is creaking at the seams, especially while the lower end of the tourism market places pressure on limited facilities.

Freedom campers will benefit from this year’s Budget with Prime Minister John Key revealing money will be allocated for infrastructure improvements.

Mr Key told The Nation the growing tourism industry is putting pressure on local councils.

“There’s an infrastructure deficit for the backpacker end, where people are staying out there, [they’re] not necessarily staying in a motel or holiday park and that’s a real issue for local councils,” says Mr Key.

He did not reveal specific details of how much spending would be allocated, or which facilities it would be spent on. Read more »

Have infrastructure lines companies becoming bullies and price gougers?

Infrastructure lines companies are becoming a right menace to property developers and owners around Auckland and the Government needs to pay attention.

I’m reliably informed of a variety of situations that are causing grief but two main issues arise constantly, with landowners powerless to do much about it because the law is an arse.

Issue #1:

Telecoms and power companies have the legal right to install lines in the road reserve. More often than not they have no strategic plan for where cabinets and poles should be located.

Property owner comes along with a development and for one reason or another might require an adjustment to the infrastructure location. That’s dealt with under legislation that requires the entity wanting the equipment moved to?pay for it to happen.

The problem is, at what cost? Developers and ordinary property owners across Auckland are complaining that the costs are extortionate and made up.

One Auckland developer told of receiving a price to relocate a chorus cabinet a distance of 1m for $78,000. When the developer decided not to bother – opting for changes to the development – Chorus came back with a new price of $16,000. That’s a $52,000 difference! An amazing difference? Or an absurdly expensive rort? This carry on is happening everywhere.

The problem comes down to cost. Sure infrastructure providers can’t guess where to place equipment but when they have to move it, do they need to be robbers dogs and grossly overcharge? ?? Read more »

Infrastructure plan highlights inadequately managed local government

Bill English has released the Government’s Infrastructure plan which sets out the infrastructure challenges facing New Zealand in the next three decades. It’s an extensive list with a wishy-washy plan to tackle the issues. Nothing certain.

?”Infrastructure supports people’s daily lives, even if they don’t think about it all that often, unless something goes wrong,” Mr English says.

Well, reading the key details from the report makes for scary reading. And amongst it all is the massive cost assumed with infrastructure that Councils have not maintained. Such as the water networks (potable water and sewers) which are now 100 years old.

The costs are assumed to be $30-50 billion. Whilst that’s debatable (its only that much if local government are allowed to continue wasting money on big truncated gold-plated systems instead of adopting modern localised technological solutions), the issue is that Local Government throughout NZ is broke and they aren’t going to suddenly change their ways.

What is really telling is that the current waters network throughout NZ is estimated to be worth $45 billion. So what the Government is highlighting is that the entire waters network in NZ is poked.

Which is precisely what Auditor General Lynn Provost warned late last year.

Sadly, Local Government has got a lot to answer for. That infrastructure is so stuffed and old means it all needs replacing says a lot about the priority placed on it by Councils. They’d rather pay themselves well and employ more people than keep the basics working. ?? Read more »