Key and Clark unite to call for Auckland port move as post-COVID-19 project

Helen Clark and John Key have joined forces to call for Auckland's port to be moved as a post-COVID infrastructure project.

The former Prime Ministers and leadership rivals both agree that it would be "awesome" to free up the waterfront - and the multi-billion project required to move it would be good for New Zealand's economy as it looks to recover. 

Clark said: "I'm one who favours the port being shifted. This is probably the most valuable land in New Zealand. Post-COVID-19, I'm very happy to be seeing proposals like shifting to Marsden Point seriously looked at."

Key said: "I support moving the port. The world is changing because of COVID-19 and because of our changing demands. Why wouldn't we use this? Out of adversity comes opportunity."

Both leaders were speaking on The Project, which investigated shifting the port to Northport at Marsden Point, which supporters say would unlock Auckland's waterfront and unleash Northland's economy. 

Key said: "Our harbour here in Auckland is one of its great assets, and at the moment, that is blocked off in a pretty reasonable way by containers and Japanese imported cars and by a big red fence."

Clark said: "I'd like to see public space, ideally you would see museums, you would see art, you'd see recreational space. You might see a stadium there, or near to it. We are not making the most of our waterfront."

The Government is looking at the move, which is estimated to cost $10 billion - but keeping the port in place is expected to cost $8 billion because of costs like dredging the harbour. 

Key pointed out this made the cost difference between staying and shifting about $2 billion.

"What people sort of forget, is that staying there is no free lunch. It costs you $8 billion to stay there over the same timeframe. To me, then you start saying okay, if we are really talking this costs $2 billion. 

"By any definition moving a port might be a 10 or 15 year project. Well, in that 15 year period, the Government of New Zealand will spend about a trillion dollars. So 2 billion? Yeah OK it is a lot - but Auckland is going to be a big city by then."

Clark said: "It could be really awesome."

Key said: "It will be awesome".