Centreport

The Dom Post editorial:

That facility – jointly owned by Greater and Manawatu-Whanganui regional councils – revealed this month that a study it commissioned from economic forecaster Berl shows it contributes close to $2 billion a year to the regional economy.

Of that $2b, the report says, half comes from core port operations or the part of the business that, in 2009-10, included 46 cruise ships tying up alongside 450,000 tonnes of logs for export, the importing of 15,000 vehicles and the handling of the equivalent of 100,000 containers. That side of the business is steady.

I’d like the port to move. Not only is a terrible eyesore compared to the rest of the waterfront, but the land it is on would be terrific for cafes, bars, apartments and even maybe a hotel. Plus of course more public space also.

The port could move to Petone/Seaview which is already an industrial area. It would provide more jobs in the Hutt, and in Wellington.

The rest of the $2b comes from ’s incursion into property development, a strategy for growth the owners have presumably sanctioned but one that carries real risk, especially in volatile times.

It also surely carries political risk: how does Wellington City Council feel about a supposedly complementary local body attracting commercial tenants – until recently, reasonably happy in the capital’s Golden Mile – to its 70 hectares of waterfront?

More fundamentally, is property development a proper business for a ratepayer-owned company? Isn’t it generally so speculative a business that it is best left to entrepreneurs, who put their own – and their banks’ – cash at risk?

I’d have the port company concentrate on port operations in Petone, and have the existing Wellington land managed by the existing waterfront agency.

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