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No blank cheque for Auckland, please

Mark Thomas

Auckland, July 3, 2016

I challenge Mayor Len Brown to match the government’s commitment to unblocking house building in Auckland.

The government would not need to bail out Auckland if Mr Brown had done a better job getting houses built in Auckland.

Auckland is New Zealand’s fastest growing city and can expect to receive the bulk of the just announced $1 billion government infrastructure loan.

But (Prime Minister) John Key should not be giving Auckland Council a blank cheque.

Commitment needed

Mt Brown should match any new government funding with a ‘tied’ undertaking to speed up consent processing and establish fast-track housing development agreements.

Aucklanders who have experienced Mr Brown’s 10% average rates rise know to be wary of just giving him more money.

Mr Brown should have to put up matching ‘house building’ commitments, before Mr Key hands over any funds.

I served on the government’s Rules Reduction Taskforce last year. There was already a menu of options for council to speed up consent processing. I met developers every week who told me that we could have more, affordable houses in Auckland if the council was quicker turning around building consents.

Special Development Areas

I had also proposed a Special Development Area approach to allow developers to build housing and infrastructure quicker.

I was happy to work with Mr Brown on agreements like this.

Auckland would not be in the position of having to accept handouts from the government if Mr Brown had been prepared to looked honestly at using existing council assets.

I had proposed swapping half the value of the Auckland airport shares as well as the port operating company into transport and other infrastructure assets.

Mark Thomas is a member of the Local Board and a candidate for Auckland Mayorality, election for which will be held in October this year.

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