Leasing Ports of Auckland 'off the table' under new deal which will see council get $1.1 billion over 10 years

Wayne Brown says leasing the Ports of Auckland has been moved off the table under a new plan which would see the port deliver better financial results and the council get more of the cash.     

The Auckland Mayor announced on Tuesday his proposal to lease out operations at the port for 35 years has been scrapped due to the new deal.    

"Ports of Auckland has agreed to deliver much improved profits to Auckland Council. And we have agreed to take the proposed sale of a long-term port lease off the table," Brown said.    

Under the new plan, Auckland's port land, assets and operations will be kept under council ownership.   

Ports of Auckland will contribute $1.1 billion in profits to the council over the next 10 years, which exceeds the projected net returns from investing the proceeds of a port lease by $172million.    

"By trade, I'm an engineer. I solve problems," the Mayor said. 

"We looked at a couple of options to improve returns and this is the best solution. 

"This plan reflects my commitment to get better value and better returns from our strategic assets and strengthen the council's long-term financial position. These higher returns will require increased port charges and improvements in productivity, and all parties are supportive of this."   

Ports of Auckland chair Jan Dawson welcomed the plan, saying it provides a clear direction and certainty for staff, customers and the community.    

"We are pleased to enter into a tripartite arrangement with our owner and our unions, as together, we will continue to deliver for the people of Auckland."  

Brown said he plans to work with the port to make the most of it and the space it occupies.     

"The new plan is based on a tripartite relationship agreement between Auckland Council, Port of Auckland and the unions, represented by the Maritime Union of New Zealand. It will provide a foundation for good faith, cooperation and long-term strategic alignment.    

"We've taken time to explore all options for the port and test the market. It's helped us understand what the opportunities are and what our expectations ought to be.  

"Had the process been any less rigorous and the debate any less robust, we may never have reached a consensus," he added.    

Maritime Union secretary Grant Williams said the future of the port is hugely important to Auckland.   

"We're pleased to see that the value and contribution of port workers has been recognised by the Mayor, councillors and the community."   

Auckland Council and council-controlled Eke Panuku have developed a framework plan for the central wharves to make better use of prime waterfront space.   

The port has agreed with Brown's proposal to return Captain Cook Wharf and Marsden Wharf to Auckland Council along with making arts of Bledisloe Wharf accessible to the public as a shared space.  

"Auckland's harbour and waterfront is a big part of what makes our city special, and it's important that we get this right. The success of the plan will be based on cooperation and joint planning, and the inclusion of mana whenua, stakeholders and the public," Brown said.    

The proposition is part of the Mayor's proposal on the long-term plan to be considered by the budget committee and governing body next week.