Kennett on Auckland

Rebecca Stevenson at Stuff reports:

Auckland mayor Len Brown should “just do it” and build the proposed $2 billion city rail loop, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says.

Mr Kennett was in Auckland yesterday discussing his leadership of Melbourne and the lessons that can be applied to New Zealand’s largest city as it attempts to become super-sized.

As the architect of the “Kennett Revolution” when he came to office in 1992 he drastically cut state spending in Victoria, “offered 50,000 public servants opportunities beyond the public sector” and turned the city into one of the world’s best event cities through an investment programme which included building the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Kennett was one of the great Premiers of an Australian state. I always hoped he would become Prime Minister one day.

The former premier said Mr Brown needed to choose about five key projects for the supercity from the “wordy” 30-year Auckland Plan out for public discussion.

He recommended a national convention centre, cruise ship terminal, a Pacific region office of the United Nations, an Aussie Rules franchise and to “turn the city to the sea”, reversing Auckland’s inward-looking design.

Not so sure about an UN office, but I like the idea of an Aussie Rules franchise – that could become huge.

Mr Kennett said he opposed borrowing for operational spend but approved it for infrastructure investment. He would not hesitate at all to borrow money to build the link because over time it would add to a less congested city.

“Two billion spent today is chicken feed in 20 or 30 years. I’m currently advancing a new underground rail system for $100b. In 50 years that will be a drop in the bucket.”

I agree that borrowing for infrastructure is good, while borrowing for operational spending is bad. And if Len wants the CBD rail loop, then he should go for it regardless of the Government.

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