Ralston says keep port land but sell 49% of port

Stuff reports:

Former journalist Bill Ralston says he would push for selling a 49 per cent share of Auckland’s port company if elected to the city’s council.

Ralston officially launched his campaign on Tuesday to become the next councillor for the central ward of Waitemata, a seat currently held by veteran local body politician Mike Lee.

Selling a stake in Ports of Auckland (POAL) would net the council $1 billion in badly needed profit, Ralston said.

It could be done by spitting POAL into two parts – the land, which would remain 100 per cent owned by Aucklanders, and the operating company of the port.

“That can become a mixed ownership model with 49 per cent owned by shareholders,” he said.

“There is an ideological majority on that council that say, ‘you can’t sell assets’. They’re trapped in their own closed minds by their old redundant ideology.”

There is absolutely no reason the Council needs to own 100% of the port. Port of Tauranga is a great example of a port that has done far far better with a mixed ownership model than ports 100% owned by a Council.

It would also mean you free up capital to invest in other infrastructure, without massive hikes in rates.

“We need to keep an open mind as to how we fund our infrastructure needs, not just borrow more and tax the ratepayer,” he said.

“The current councillor for Waitemata poured fire and brimstone on the mayor and council over (last year’s) 10 per cent rates increase, and then promptly voted for it.

“Tricky, cynical footwork that I hope the voters of Waitemata and Gulf will remember,” he said.

They will be reminded!

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