Wayne Brown urges councillors to support airport shares sale plan because 'I'm not like the Government - I just can't print money'

  • Updated
  • 01/06/2023

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is proposing a full sale of council shares in the city's airport and a rates rise of 6.7 percent.

Councillors met on Wednesday with an Australian financial advisory firm where they discussed the proposed sale.

Unveiling his final budget proposal on Thursday morning, Brown confirmed he was going ahead with the proposal to sell the shares. Newshub was barred from attending the press conference, with the Mayor saying only "sensible" media outlets were invited.

In a statement, Brown said retaining the shares made no sense.

"If we don't sell now, we'll have to put rates up by double-digits and make bigger cuts. 

"Unfortunately, there are some councillors who for ideological reasons think we must retain a huge amount of shares in a single company listed on the stock exchange - whatever the cost. Including a few who campaigned at the last election to cap rates rises at inflation.

"We need to balance the budget and I am offering a path forward that does that, and allows councillors to meet their pledge. For some reason they would rather keep $2 billion of debt and pass the cost of servicing it back on to the ratepayer."

Speaking to Newstalk ZB earlier, Brown encouraged the city's 20 councillors to get behind the plan because the public doesn't "want any [rates] increase above inflation".

"There's something in this for everybody," he said.

Brown admitted the process was "bloody hard".

"I'm not like the Government, I just can't print money - they can," he told Newstalk ZB.

"The Government don't have to consult on their Budget; they just roll it out, print money and there it is - it's all easy."  

Brown told ZB the council would save $100 million per year in interest through the airport shares sale.

A council-commissioned poll showed just 24 percent of ratepayers support a full sale, while 52 percent support a partial sale and 17 percent don't support one at all.