Does Auckland have the infrastructure capacity to host the America's Cup? Alex Tarrant reviews two of the Mexican stand-offs involving central government, the Auckland Council, the Airport and Watercare

Does Auckland have the infrastructure capacity to host the America's Cup? Alex Tarrant reviews two of the Mexican stand-offs involving central government, the Auckland Council, the Airport and Watercare

By Alex Tarrant

Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup win has certainly fired up the Auckland infrastructure debate (as if it needed more fuel). Every interested party is now reviewing their wish list trying to figure out whether their pet project could be completed in four years. Rail, roads, houses and water pipes.

The 2021 event (Auckland will also hold the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that year) might be a Godsend for getting even more Auckland infrastructure work on the move (if we can find the labourers needed – don’t mention foreigners!).

But the multiple Mexican stand-offs between the Government, Auckland Council and other parties like Auckland Airport and Watercare need to be resolved. The key in each dispute is who pays for what, when, why and how.

This (rather long) column focuses on two of those stand-offs. Rail to Auckland Airport from the CBD, and cheaper, faster provision of water services for new housing in Auckland – including boosting incentives for cheaper densification. On Rail, there is a simple answer to get things moving if the project would indeed lead to benefits. On water, revised legislation debated in Parliament last week provides some hope.

Rail to the airport

Politicians were quick to jump on the success of ETNZ earlier this week and the expected economic benefits to Auckland from holding the Cup in 2021. The Green Party used the occasion to question the Transport Minister on whether Auckland would have capacity to host the event.

“Will the government start building rail to the airport sooner, if Auckland hosts the next America’s Cup regatta, or will Aucklanders still have to wait 30 years?” Julie Anne Genter asked Simon Bridges.

Bridges’ answers focussed on the current plan of protecting a sole purpose route that will originally be marked out for a busway to the Airport. This showed the government was prioritising the project, he claimed, being careful to add it was difficult to explain what the timeframe could be for progressing to rail. This would be driven by demand and usage numbers, Bridges said.

So why not just kick-start the project of rail to the airport? If central government were to lead on funding, couldn’t others like the Council be given time to come up with their share? The reason this National-led government isn’t making any firm commitments like this is down to the principle of, whoever benefits should pay.

Steven Joyce, Simon Bridges and other Ministers have in recent months been talking more about the use of value uplift taxes to help fund new projects – rates will be higher in areas that profit from increased transportation links, for example. These could be residential rates paid by homeowners in areas with improved access to the CBD from a new road, which would have boosted the value of their property. They could also be imposed on commercial businesses that benefit from more foot-traffic due to being closer to, say, a new train station.

The government openly admits that a value uplift tax would have been a perfect fit for Auckland’s inner-city rail loop. But, because the loop was announced before Ministers could start spraying the idea around, they feel it would be a bit rude (think a vote-loser) to suddenly turn around and clamp such a tax on business owners close to where the new stations would be, regardless of the economics.

They have to find a project that hasn’t yet started, and which would clearly benefit the areas linked by the project. Penlink has been talked about. I also give you the Airport-City rail link.

However, Bridges and Joyce are engaged in a stand-off with Auckland Airport. ‘If you come to the table, then we will too.’

Auckland Airport would clearly benefit from any rail link with the city. So, Bridges et al are waiting for them to come to the party. If we’re talking light rail – trams – then Dominion Road businesses and residential properties should also benefit in value uplift.

It’s a stand-off though. If the airport argues against paying more because the benefits won’t be that great, then the government can turn around and say, ‘ok well that’s a good argument for not needing to build the new connection’. If the government just starts funding the link itself, then it runs the risk of no-one else coming to the party. They also don't want to be seen starting the project with inclusion of value-uplift taxes that no-one agrees on - that's not the way this government wants to work.

In effect, the sticking point is a matter of principle. It’s a principled Mexican stand-off. Or a prisoners’ dilemma in a low-security prison.

Water pipe dream

The next stand-off is a key component in Auckland’s housing debate. Water pipes. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the National Cabinet would love to take a swipe at the monopolistic, not-for-profit Watercare in Auckland. They’re getting nearer to it.

The Local Government Amendment Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) was introduced last year by former Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga. And boy was it popular. The Local Government Select Committee heard nearly 200 submissions on the Bill. They’ve now reported back with amendments. The Bill received a second reading last week.

The stand-off between local and central government on water pipes can best be summed up by a conversation between media and Local Government New Zealand a few weeks back. A lot of New Zealand’s water pipe infrastructure was put in in the 1960s, we were told. Those pipes had an expected lifetime of 60 years, so we’re heading towards an exponential renewals curve over the next 15 years for assets worth over $100 billion.

A couple of the journalists (including this correspondent) were a tad miffed by this. Did local councils know there was only a 60-year life span? “Yeah, they did,” was the reply. ““The renewals curve is not a surprise. But it’s here, now.”

So why haven’t councils planned over those 60 years to put replacement funds aside? The problem, we were told, was that in the 1960s a lot of the pipes were paid for by central government. Now, technically only local government is on the hook. “Under our current funding model, it’s rates and debt [to pay for it]. The issue becomes, is that a sustainable position? Our view is it is not.”

That’s why local government is calling on central government to agree to a co-funding model for the replacement of water pipes nationwide that are coming to the end of their working life (even though this was all known about for 60 years).

I asked Local Government New Zealand chairman Lawrence Yule whether they’d had any indications from central government that this could be done. He said central government had always indicated a willingness to look at it “but only once you’ve made sure what you’re doing currently is being done as efficiently as it can be.”

It’s a stand-off. Local government is refusing to consider how to fund replacement pipes until central government agrees to a co-funding model. Central government won’t agree to a co-funding model until local government gets its own house in order and ensures water services operations are as efficient as possible.

The issue got to a point where central government decided to try and take the initiative. This is where the Local Government Local Government Act Amendment Bill (No 2) comes in. Central government clearly believes things aren’t being done as efficiently as possible.

The Bill will allow various councils to band together to create Transport and Water Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) to provide services across several local authorities. Scale. It will also give greater scope for re-organisation of CCOs. As now-Local Government Minister Anne Tolley put it in Thursday’s second reading, it provides “an opportunity for the sector to show their local strategic leadership, which may require hard decisions about difficult options in order to secure a positive future for their communities.”

Let’s take Watercare. In its submission on the Bill (co-submitted with Auckland Council), it argued that since its first fully operational year in 2011/12, it has reduced the cost of water delivery to Aucklanders compared the rag-tag pricing run previously by individual councils pre-Super City.

That’s true. The $1.30 per thousand litres was below the range of $1.31-$3.50 encompassing Rodney, North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland, Manukau and Franklin. Job well done. Scale worked. But since then, that cost has risen each year to $1.44 per thousand litres in 2016/17. That’s not what central government (or Auckland residents) wanted to see.

A 2015 Cabinet paper introducing the Amendment Bill reveals what some Cabinet Ministers really wanted to do. The Local Government Minister at the time highlighted the potential benefits of requiring Watercare to have to pay a dividend (“distribute surpluses”) to the Council. This could encourage more efficient pricing of water services and allow it better access to finance.

However, due to the prospect of the move not being supported by “the community,” the idea was not included. Indeed, when the Local Government Select Committee reported the Bill back to the House in June, Section 70 was there prohibiting the distribution of surpluses by water services CCOs.

A pity. There is some exciting stuff in there, though. Central government is aiming to be imposing a number of requirements that I’m told are aimed at drastically changing the way Watercare operates.

The Productivity Commission’s 2016 report, Using Land for Housing, helped. Looking at Watercare from a housing supply lens, the Commission raised a number of concerns and recommendations which will partly be tackled by the Bill.

Firstly, Watercare’s Infrastructure Growth Charges (IGCs) do not recover the full costs of growth (new pipes for new housing), the Commission pointed out. Although initially this could produce benefits for new home buyers not paying the full cost for water infrastructure, deficits will need to be recovered from somewhere. Recovery from existing residents will reduce community acceptance of growth, limiting the supply of infrastructure-enabled land, therefore contributing to higher house prices.

Watercare needed to change how it calculates charges to better reflect the underlying economic costs of supply in different locations and for different types of dwelling, the Commission said. This linked in with criticisms of Watercare’s model of charging flat fees.

“To the extent that certain types of development result in lower infrastructure costs than others, a flat charge will result in a cross-subsidy between different types of dwelling. This might result in a situation in which smaller and more affordable dwellings are cross-subsidising larger standalone dwellings.”

The Bill requires Watercare to shift away from the IGC model to a development contribution model. It has until 30 June 2018 at the latest to figure out how to best make the switch.

Meanwhile, the Commission urged Watercare to consider development agreements, which would enable private developers to take responsibility for building trunk infrastructure. It referenced research that developers may be able to provide infrastructure solutions at lower costs than Watercare, particularly due to ‘over specification’ required by Watercare.

“Watercare notes that development agreements have a range of advantages (eg, they provide a mechanism for bringing in private capital into the provision of public infrastructure) and disadvantages (eg, the time required to prepare and finalise the agreements, especially if more than one developer/landowner is involved). The obligation to consider requests from a developer to enter into development agreements and provide the developer with a written response would not compel Watercare and other CCOs to enter agreements where there are good reasons not to. But a requirement to set out in writing why a development agreement may not proceed would provide clarity and transparency about the reasons for the decision.”

The Bill doesn’t appear to go as far as the Commission would have hoped, but it does provide legislation for Watercare to be able to enter into development agreements.

Finally, the Commission appeared horrified that for both Auckland Transport and Watercare, “supply of infrastructure to support growth is not reflected in either organisation’s performance measures.”

“While the primary accountability documents for Watercare and Auckland Transport (the Statements of Intents) are broadly aligned with the Auckland Plan vision, they do not give effect to the specific objective in the Auckland Plan to increase the city’s supply of new dwellings,” it said.

“Auckland Transport and Watercare’s SOIs should be amended to include performance measures relating to the efficient roll-out of new infrastructure to support an increased supply of new dwellings.

“The regulatory and institutional framework around the water sector can be improved. Discipline and transparency around the pricing of water services, and better performance monitoring, would improve the ability of the water sector to support urban growth,” the Commission said.

The Bill includes provision for Council input on CCO statements of intent and for performance monitoring. Each CCO – ie Watercare – must provide its shareholders the opportunity to influence the direction of the organisation, and must provide a basis for the accountability of the directors to their shareholders for the performance of the organisation.

And that performance monitoring? A local authority must undertake regular performance monitoring to evaluate a CCO’s contribution to the achievement of the authority’s objectives for the organisation, the desired results set out in its SOI and the overall aims and outcomes of the local authority.

What’s yet to be seen, however, is whether the changes would have such an effect as to fix the pending funding crisis for water pipe replacement and extension. I would think not. But with this Bill, central and local government will both be able to tap the argument that councils and their organisations have reached, or will soon reach efficiency limits.

And that’s the trigger for central government coming to the funding party.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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16
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We hear about Auckland as a powerhouse all the time (tedious) and that it's the only place certain common taters can get a job (think that one through). And I watch the glorious place I used to live turn into a mess. But we put up with it - mostly.
If the city is to be a great one, it's time you Aucklanders started to make it great. Stop phaffing about. You live there -get it done - do it , pay for it.
Rail to the airport - unbelievable it hasn't been running 40 years. Quadruple the rates and build it.
Shortage of labourers. Sort through those zombie suburbs of South Auckland and sign up the struggling.
Viaduct. It will sort itself out if it's viable. If not it can go elsewhere.
Water - sort of optional in your frame work I guess and the money is better spent at the Viaduct. Other folk might think water useful, add an additional 25% surcharge on the rates and get it done.
No problem really for the economic powerhouse we hear Auckland is.

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I think we Aucklanders like it just the way it is e.g. disorganized and disjointed Governance, poor public transport, congested roading, unaffordable housing etc etc, because if we really wanted to fix it, we could.

Very well said KH

Felt embarrassed explaining to a colleague arriving from Hong Kong a few weeks ago that we never had a train from the airport and possibly wouldn't in future either. This was after she, a well-travelled person, mentioned that getting to her hotel using the airport bus entailed a pretty long journey.

Last time I was in LA there wasn't a train to LAX either!

LAX is a special case - clearly endevouring to be the least customer friendly airport in the universe. Don't give Auckland Airport any ideas.

LAX is good.
A cheese burger, what ever the time of day.
Cab's around. Take you to the hotel.
Can't ask for much more.

Yes you can!
You can ask for a train, better food and accommodation you can walk too.

Los Angeles is not Huntly.

Very interesting benchmark analysis to compare the train from Brisbane to the Airport.

BNE is basically the same size as AKL population wise and the heavy rail link was built relatively recently - about 10+ odd years from memory.

Yes - today is well utilised - BUT they have an additional 14 local rail lines fanning out ex BNE central.

It cost a huge amount of money with very significant operating losses for some years.

Yes - rail to AKL Airport would be a nice idea but just be prepared for huge costs and ongoing operating losses as without the associated infrastructure to allow public transport to the wider city area you are in effect restricting it's utility to only those ending up in the near CBD - I suggest a very small percentage of AKL Airport passengers.

Lugging a suitcase in the burbs through the rain to a local bus to the CBD, not always an option 24/7, then catching a train to the Airport makes no sense for a very large and dominant portion of travellers.

Simplest, cheapest and most convenient will be a taxi for many years ahead.

Wikipedia on BNE Airport Link:

Initial passenger numbers on the service were well below expectations[6] and the company nearly faced voluntary administration in 2003. However, in May 2005, Airtrain operated at a profit for the first time due to significant passenger growth – 1.12 million passengers in the 2004-2005 financial year, an increase of 40% – and a complex company restructure that cut costs by nearly half.

Passenger numbers on the service have also steadily increased, approaching two million passengers each year using the private rail link. In 2008, 6% of visitors to the airport used an Airtrain service.[7] This figure rose to 8% in 2011.

For a typical group of 2-3 travellers it simply makes no sense to use public transport when a door to door taxi is not only cheaper but quicker and offers a far superior and always dry 24/7 service.

Brisbane's house prices are half of Auckland's too. You can buy for around $500k a good family home in a railway commuter suburb/township 30min from the CBD by train or motorway. 200,000 kiwis live in Brisbane. It is not hard to work out why.....NZ is failing to provide the competitive equivalent.....

Take all the people that live in the CBD, which is the largest residential suburb in New Zealand by a long shot. Then take all the workers, businesspeople and tourists travelling to/from the CDB. Add to that all the people that live on the route between the CDB and the airport (hint: the Auckland Isthmus is quite densely populated). Add to that all the westies that can transfer from the Western Line at Mt Eden, and all the Shorites that might take the busway and transfer at Britomart.

Now take all that group of transport users off SH20A, and the rest of Auckland might have some hope of making their flight on time.

Trying to ram another 700K to 1M of population growth in, all of whom need to use the airport at some time, down SH20A? That's just insanity, but sadly that is what goes for transport planning in this country.

Sorry but I can't understand why you would find that embarrassing.

Because only third world countries don't have public transport to their main airport.

Being embarrassed takes some social awareness and self knowledge to understand.

Are you trying to tell me that it is OK for people to feel embarrassed because they don't have e.g. new car, or a new house, oversease trips, train from airport to city?. Surely this is denigrating people or countries who have less, or have different things to you ......you see my social awareness and self-knowledge finds that denigrating others based upon financial imagery is embarrassing behaviour.

And that is why we can't have nice things!

About time the true facts were summarised like this. Sick of hearing Auckland problems

KH I'm sure you know local government is a democracy and if the mayor wanted to double rates to pay for immigrants that he won't last long. Would you be happy if the government funnelled a ton of immigrants into your town and expected you to pay for it.
Also we wouldn't be in this mess if the government just spent Aucklands fair share of transport spending more wisely. They opened a new 1.4 billion road yesterday and said don't expect it to ease congestion in any way. WTF! Could have had rail to airport for same price, that would have taken cars off road. Government now lining up next 1.8 billion dollar road that will just make things worse.

Threatening to "quadruple the rates" could solve Auckland's immigration problem.

You have confused capacity utilisation with congestion.

Two entirely different issues.

Congestion is a human condition irrespective of transport modes. Imagine by some sleight of hand congestion mysteriously vanished one morning and we all arrived at work early.

Over the next few days we would all leave later and later and re-establish congestion at a later time.

New roads add capacity and allow for far greater volume of traffic - they will only shift congestion patterns which are with us by nature.

Just as we have no problem building new hospitals and schools as populations increase - so we need to add new road capacity in conjunction with new public transport initiatives.

Unless your on a main route with no luggage, tools etc a private motor car is going to win hands down for the majority of movement about Auckland and yes that will require additional new road capacity.

We should of course have dynamic road pricing to make best use of the existing assets prior to additional capacity.

We can't.People choose useless infrastructure over a rates increase.

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NZ's city infrastructure's are pathetic compared to everywhere I went in Europe and I suspect would be bad compared to North American cities too. Decades of under investment and an obsession by a crowd of one-eyed politicians and their cronies to obstructing multi-modal transport options has made NZ cities third rate. Even worse, as Alex reports housing affordability is a hostage to this useless inadequate infrastructure provision. It is well past time that our leaders stopped playing games and did their job.

John Key in 2007 promised National knew the answers to how to fix our cities ....make them affordable to buy a house in .....give people opportunities.... that this was a core part of National Party values.......https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWPgoAI1cLE

Our leaders need to be held to account. Why is it that 10 years later our cities are still buggered?

The answer to your closing question is easy.
It's because the politics of cutting taxes, minimising rates increases and maximising rises in property values has been a winner for a long time.

To the point where now a friend took a fall on Friday afternoon, possible broken shoulder, still waiting in hospital on results from a scan done this morning. Health system is just about run completely into the ground.

Update will have no answer before tomorrow morning, more than 48 hrs after incident

Singapore has a population larger than ours but only spends 10.7 billion per year on healthcare to achieve world leading results. Why do people think that the 17.1 billion we spend to achieve average (relative to OECD) healthcare is too little? Surely there is just some inefficiency somewhere!

There is a bit of "inefficiency" in Singapore too sadr. The Dr. Lim case is beauty.

"Dr Lim was brought before two disciplinary committees after the Ministry of Health lodged a complaint against her in 2007, following concerns raised by its Bruneian counterpart over her bills.

Dr Lim treated Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit for breast cancer until the patient's death in August 2007. Her bill for 2007 came to $24 million."

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/court-of-appeal-uphol...
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3421059/Top-doctor-performed-wor...

Even with that kind of billing they somehow manage to provide 20% more people with world leading healthcare for $6.5 billion less than we spend to achieve mediocre healthcare. Just Imagine what we must bill to achieve that!

It's probably related to geography. NZ must spend a lot on making care available in a wide array of locations. Watch - pretty soon the taxpayer will be asked to stump up more for healthcare in the Otago Lakes district.

Singapore has a compulsory health savings system so people tend to not rort and waste as in a "free" system. Only the expats get rorted...

Would be interesting to see what critical injuries A&E had to accommodate in terms of car accidents and alcohol related problems pushing non critical down the que over friday & sat night..

The health system is in good health - we simply cannot afford to have capacity to accommodate all peaks.

Some form of prioritising has to take place.

Brendon: right on. Auckland suffers from two problems - (1) lack of foresight in the past especially about transport and (2) deliberate fast growth. A fatal combination. I can clearly remember my first visit to Auckland in 1995 and crossing the Harbour Bridge and saying to myself - well that is a bottleneck, they need to start replacing it now. Rail from CBD to airport - Cleveland has had it forever (they used to keep it secret so tourists would pay for taxis) even the French have it!

Here is an extract from Michael Reddell - it is a year old but I'm assuming still true: ""Since World War Two only one OECD country has a largest city that has grown faster than Auckland. Since 2000, Auckland has grown by 30 per cent and the rest of the country only by 13 per cent. That much larger population - and the growing diversity of the population - should, so it was argued, have markedly boosted our economic fortunes.
There has been a belief that if only we build and promote a big city then growth will come. And whatever the arguments, there is simply no evidence that the strategy has worked. We’ve run a huge natural experiment, the evidence is in, and it isn’t good. Over the last 15 years, a period of no growth in per capita tradables sector production in the country as a whole, we’ve also seen Auckland’s average per capita incomes falling relative to those in the rest of the country. Fifteen years ago average Auckland incomes were 124 per cent of those in the rest of New Zealand. Now it is more like 115 per cent. Sure there is lots of activity going on there, but much of it just supports the needs- roads, schools, houses, shops, offices etc - of a very rapidly growing population. There is simply no sign of a fast-growing knowledge-based outward-oriented tradable sector, that would lead faster national growth in productivity and incomes, emerging.""

You reckon the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a bottle-neck? It needs replacing now?

NZ has a propensity to plan for yesterday - or, to say it another way - plan for today with a 10 year build time - by which time it is inadequate

An example
The Auckland Harbour Bridge
Initial planning began in 1860, but would not come to fruition until 1957 nearly 100 years later. The structure that was built was inadequate within 4 years (repeat 4 years) The planners then embarked on extending it by adding clip-ons which expanded its carrying capacity by 100% which is inadequate today. The surrounding infrastructure on either side of the bridge has never been up to the task and in sync with the bridge itself. Read some of the history here
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10574333

Compare that to the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was opened in 1932 after taking 6 years to build and has yet to reach absolute capacity which is not expected until 2030. It was developed with two levels, including trams and trains and vehicle transport.

AKL Harbour Bridge:- Would you believe, one of the main reasons for planning difficulties and delays on the type of harbour bridge was because it had to be high enough (coathanger style) to allow cargo ships to get under the bridge and up to the Chelsea Sugar Works at Birkenhead. That's the only reason, otherwise it could and would have been lower. Just had a dekko and sure enough the Chelsea Sugar Works, first established in 1884, are still going, and they still to this day have handysize ships importing raw sugar from Queensland once every four to five weeks - yep - one boat every 4 to 5 weeks - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Sugar_Refinery
http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/65197/brendon-harre-thinks-we-have-pro...

Auckland's Central Motorway Junction created a moat around most of central Auckland -cutting off the commercial/high density area from its neighbours, the motorway takes up the same amount of space as the CBD does and it forced the removal of 50,000 people in the 1970s. It was heroically one-eyed pro-motorway thinking. Auckland is probably still suffering productivity losses to this day from its obsessional with driving into the CBD. Check out the two photos of Auckland's CBD from this article. https://medium.com/land-buildings-identity-and-values/tokyo-does-not-sub...

Actually I have never found the bridge itself to be the problem, its the feeders to the motorway by design and there are simply not enough lanes right through. By the time you get to the bridge itself its flowing by virtue it has the capacity for more lanes than the motorway. Its too late to sort the motorway, the cost is now prohibitive so the solution will be better public transport and higher road charges to force people to use it, or maybe it will get to the point of total gridlock and people will be forced onto buses to get to work on time.

Bob I find it immensely frustrating. I am not 100% convinced by Michael Reddell's argument though. It is possible city growth in Auckland (and Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton, Central Otago....) could be productive for NZ, if NZ Inc focused on investments in genuine city-based businesses not trying to get capital gains from property bubbles or game monopolistic advantages from an anticompetitive non-tradeable sector.

I must admit to not being totally against the concept of a modern, larger, more productive Auckland. It is/was possible. MR certainly shows it is not working at present but he never argues that other cities have not succeeded. We have to focus on why.
I have only learned the word agglomeration recently. The underlying concept requires ease of movement - not of academics, economists, lawyers but more productive workers like a chimney sweep I assisted a couple of years ago - traffic being bad he concentrated on Kaipara otherwise he could not guarantee getting from one place to another on time. FYI fire bricks are from west Auckland, steel from south and suppliers of wood fires and ovens in North Shore.
The short term solution for Auckland is a near freeze on immigration for an agreed period (say 3 years); avoiding exceptions for builders - the immigrants can go to the regions if needed and stay there for say 5 years the Kiwis can commute to Auckland. Otherwise we are just slowly going downhill.

A builder friend of mine went to another country once for a year to help them build their Olympic games facilities. Funnily enough, he wasn't offered residency in order to attract him there - just a job with a decent income for a given length of time.

Other friends have gone to work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain etc. Have they gone with the intent of gaining residence and ultimately citizenship? No, not at all.

We need to stop conflating the idea of offering jobs to international workers with the need to provide residency. The two are not the same.

We need a government a little less eager to constantly lift our skirts to all and sundry. National's a wee bit too easy.

Unfortunately, we are not very good in NZ when it comes to getting things done. "She'll do", "close enough" and "tomorrow's another day" seem to be the main mottos.

back in the day when I was wet behind the ears when I worked for the MOW and we were building the motorway along onehunga waterfront.
at the time the outcry was median barriers, we were still building motorways with grass to separate, I asked the head engineer why were not putting them in. I got a long lesson on cost against benefit, at the end I asked a simple question, is it not cheaper to do it now rather than come back and put it in later.
the answer of course it is, (about a third at the time)
but we have to abide by the cost benefit ratios which back then were set at 20 years.
as an aside Germany and the USA used to build 100 year motorways (high use built out of concrete )
so over a long period of time the way we build is more expensive

And that performance monitoring? A local authority must undertake regular performance monitoring to evaluate a CCO’s contribution to the achievement of the authority’s objectives for the organisation, the desired results set out in its SOI and the overall aims and outcomes of the local authority.

"The overall aims and outcomes of the local authority" of Auckland Council are bat dropping crazy, with an aim to create the greatest extent of exurban sprawl of all cities. A city spending most of its budget developing surrounding towns is abnormal.