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Federated Farmers want Auckland to have better PT

This piece from Federated Farmers slipped out a couple of days ago. It includes a few odd solutions and urban myths, that show they don’t fully understand urban/Auckland issues, however it is still quite important in that it shows they are at least heading in the right direction. The background to it seems to be that they are sick of urban sprawl, especially in Auckland taking over farm land. Anyway, here is their piece in full

Sunday, 30 December 2012, 11:19 am
Opinion: Federated Farmers
Lets take the lid off our Cities

New Zealand is a big country – at 268,000 square Kms we are bigger than the United Kingdom; we are 67% the size of Germany, 72% the size of Japan. Our coast line is longer than both mainland USA and mainland China. Our economic zone is more than half the size of Australia. But these countries have far greater populations than we do. Demographics drives a lot in any country, any economy.

We have to get over this small country mentality and mindset and back ourselves more. Some are simply having the wrong discussion – is growth good? Yes it is. The question for New Zealand is not about weather we grow, but how we grow.

Human capability is critical to all parts of our community and economy. In most parts of New Zealand, except Auckland, the population is flat or in decline. And like all the other slow growth indebted countries, we also have an aging population. There are not enough people to produce the exports, provide the services, pay the taxes and build a future at first world income levels. We simply need more people.

But we need to be smart about it, in two ways

First, we need to take the lid off our cities. When driving along Manakau Road to come into Auckland CBD from the airport, it seams like the tallest building is a corner dairy. We should stop building out and start build up. Perhaps Manakau road needs to have 200 -300 buildings 8 – 30 stories tall, and then run a mono rail down the middle to the airport. Wellington is doing a pretty good job of “Mahattanising” on its Te Aro flat around Courtney Place. Surely Auckland is capable of similar. With forecast of another million people, there simply needs to be more density of population per square km.

This would mean

1. we stop gobbling up productive land – we’ve already lost 30% over the last 30 years to urban sprawl and the conservation estate – now 35% of NZ.

2. It means Auckland might have some chance of becoming a green or even an international city. Right now Auckland it has no chance of doing either. It’s a series of little low level villages. It simply cant be compared to Paris, Singapore, New York or London. The strategy seams to be to spread it out all the way to Taumarunui. It needs less traffic congestion, more public transport, better utilization of resources, more integrated and diverse communities. To do this it simply has to go up, not out. Public transport will never work unless there are far more people in far less space.

3. And it means more affordable housing, so home ownership becomes a reality, not just a dream. Instead of 3 bedrooms on a 400 meter section you might have 20 to 120, which would make the land component per bedroom somewhat less in theory.

Secondly, we need to be smart and spread the population growth across the country. This means investing in networks such as broadband, water, science, roads, public transport, energy and housing right across the nation, not just Auckland. It’s important for New Zealand that Auckland is successful absolutely, but Auckland is not New Zealand, it is but one part of New Zealand.

So we need to increase our population in smart ways and we have got to stop thinking like a small country. Taking the lid of Auckland is an obvious next step.

I’m just going to list a few of my thoughts on the piece.

  • It is all very well quoting the physical size of the country but it would probably be more useful to think about things from the amount of productive land. A large amount of the country is rugged and or covered in bush that is unsuitable for either farming or urbanisation.
  • I think they have generally been smart not to fall into the trap of suggesting that we try and curb Auckland’s growth and force people out to the regions but instead seem to recognise that if we want to get more people into other places then we need to make them more attractive. Indeed they even seem to recognise that a Auckland growing isn’t a bad thing and is probably needed for Auckland to become more internationally competitive.
  • Coming from the background of not wanting more urban sprawl they correctly point out that for Auckland to handle its growth, it will need to get denser however this is also where they make their biggest mistake. Suggesting that the solution requires turning Auckland into a version of Manhattan with 8-30 story apartment blocks all around the place is simply ridiculous. Spreading the growth out through a lot more medium density development (e.g. terraced houses and low rise apartments) would cover off a large proportion of the forecast growth for the next 30-40 years, possibly longer.
  • I did find it really interesting and positive that they actually linked higher densities to helping improve housing affordability issues that the city has.
  • On the issue of PT, more density will help but it isn’t the necessity that they state. Much better PT is already on the way in the form of the new bus network along with some of the other projects going on at AT.
  • I admit I did have a little laugh at the suggestion of a monorail down Manukau Rd but perhaps the positive side is it means they at least support some form of rail to the airport

All in all I think this is actually quite positive from Federated Farmers and seeing as they support rural interests, perhaps the rural/urban divide isn’t as great as it thought to be. It would be good if perhaps the Chief Executive of Federated Farmers had a word to his brother about this.

81 comments to Federated Farmers want Auckland to have better PT

  • Eastland Dave

    “…is not about weather we grow” Is that supposed to be a pun?

    Interesting though about the airport case (not monorail though!), as could this not have more benefit to the rural sector as part of wider national economic growth than the CRL? Also, the Avondale-Southdown line would provide a suitable short term solution to the wider issues of network flexibility. $2.2bn for 29km v $2.8bn for 3km or so of rail.

    http://www.arc.govt.nz/albany/fms/main/Documents/Transport/RLTS/RLTS%202009/Airport%20rail%20information%20sheet.pdf

    Assume there is a more recent study kicking about given the roading projects etc.

    • The Avondale-Southdown line doesn’t address the capacity constraints that exist on the existing network as it doesn’t allow us to run more trains to the areas with the biggest demand (the city) so no it isn’t an alternative. Parts of it could well come into play though. I suspect that the section from Avondale to Dominion Rd as branch line might be in the vicinity of $50-100m due to the fact all crossings but New North Rd will already be grade separated and the corridor is sitting there designated and clear thanks to the the works by the NZTA. AT, the NZTA and others are also working right now on determining the exact alignment for any route to the airport before starting work on a business case for it.

      Also the $2.8b you mention is actually inflation adjusted out to 2021 and includes things like duplicating the Onehunga line, grade separation of some existing level crossings and extra trains etc. The actual cost of the tunnel by itself in 2012 dollars is about $1.8b. The $2.2b mentioned in that document are in 2007 or 2008 dollars and based on rough guesses only.

      • Eastland Dave

        Very true. Was under the impression the $2.8bn or so was the cost from media reports so that is good to know. Media articles are slightly short of detail in that case, e.g. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10817126. Sacha has a fair point as ignorant readers such as myself are easily misled!

        From a rural sector point of view time to market is critical, whether that be port access for shipping or air freight lead times, so maybe national “significance” of funding needs to be sold. Would have thought that benefit of PT would be something FF would look into!

        • Jamie Walton

          Thanks for the links (Eastland) Dave. Is the airport line proposed to carry freight the the airport and “Airport North” growth area? I think it should.

          Perhaps this could be handled with a third rail along the route from the south which could then diverge from the passenger line at Mangere and continue straight along the former “SE Motorway” reservation through Favona to Otahuhu in the vicinity of the former railway workshops (which was like one of the route options originally looked at for the passenger line). A curving through-route further to the west through the “Airport North” and airport terminal areas would serve those areas better, in my opinion, and being submerged under the north runway would protect our exports and imports (and passengers) getting squashed by over-shooting/under-shooting planes.

  • Andrew R

    When the Feds make comments like this (although I do like the mis-spelling of whether): “Some are simply having the wrong discussion – is growth good? Yes it is. The question for New Zealand is not about weather we grow, but how we grow.” it really shows how out of touch with reality they are.

    No understanding of growth and doubling periods, clueless on the implications of climate change, or the increasing cost of oil or of other resource limits, including fertilisers. No concept of the difference between growth and development. And still in a denial state when it comes to the impacts in more intense dairying.

    Sad really.

    • Jamie Walton

      I agree with you Andrew, re. the difference between growth and development (per (outcast) economist Herman Daly), and the impacts of intense dairying.

      But I suggest going easy on Federated Farmers on the urban/rural stuff, as they’re making strides that are at least heading closer to the right direction, and we need to encourage them to come closer.

      The best agricultural/horticultural land is generally in and around cities and towns, e.g., around Westgate and Kumeu. It’s very short-sighted to allow this to go under sprawl. If Federated Farmers flex they’re muscle on this, that’s good for us.

      • Bryce P

        Yes, they have come a long way (under some pressure but credit where credit’s due) and the failure to contain sprawl increases any potential need for more intensive farming practices which would be a waste. I would rather see farming than mining if I had to choose. The new Westgate development is an utter waste of prime productive land and what’s more is that across SH16 there is another very big chunk of land that is also zoned ‘commercial’. We need to contain the madness – now!

        • Jamie Walton

          I agree. There are very good market gardens in that area. I hear we’re importing vegetables from China already – total madness.

          • MFD

            Why is it “madness”?
            Growing vegetables commercially is labour-intensive and NZ has high labour rates in spite of the nonsense spouted about NZ being a low wage economy. It’s very disappointing that many people are not willing to pay more for local produce but are they mad?

          • Jamie Walton

            MFD, after 40 years of “neo-classical” economics dominating the world, leading economists and economic institutions are slowly but surely starting to realise and acknowledge that it does matter where things are made and grown, and they should be made and grown as locally as possible. Of course, NZ is still 10-20 years behind.

          • Bryce P

            If MFD, our farmable land is of less importance than housing etc, why is it that so many overseas investment companies are so keen to purchase NZ farm land in as big chunks as they can get? Because they see it as cheap and of such good quality for producing the food that their countries will require in the future. Malls, lifestyle blocks and 1/4 acre sprawl do nothing for NZ’s long term future. They are merely ways of spending hard got disposable income and do nothing for our balance of payments. Exports are what NZ needs and while fruit and vege may be low on the agenda, protein based products like milk powder seem to be required in huge quantities. Our only other, real export product is tourism and that too depends on expanses of green. Even the wine and film industries require green land.

          • MFD

            So, Mr Walton, what is your proposal for stopping people buying Chinese vegetables? As a local fruit grower the “made and grown as locally as possible” mantra suits me just fine but if it were to catch on around the world it would be disastrous for this country.

          • MFD

            Bryce P: how on earth do you interpret a question re the sanity of buying vegetables from China as a contention that “our farmable land is of less importance than housing”?

          • Bryce P

            Apologies, I thought your comment was directed at the ‘madness’ comment I made about building malls and low density housing on prime farming land. If people wish to buy Chinese veges then that is their call. I prefer to buy local produce when possible.

          • MFD

            Try growing it yourself – even better than buying locally…but of course you need land for that.

        • Federated Farmers have in fact been voicing these concerns for years. They started the 10K club for farmers facing insane rates in areas which force them to fragment and sell off their farms into unproductive commuter mcmansion playpens aka dreaded ‘lifestyle blocks’. A consequence of direct fringe urban sprawl is further fragmentation of the countryside penetrating deep into the rural landscape since rates are levied on capital value which increases once land become zones commercial or mixed use residential and available for subdivision.

          The best land usually falls first sadly. Just look at all that lovely land near Mt Wellington. Gone. Henderson was next and now Kumeu is under thread. Next will be the volcanic market gardens of South Auckland and then the north will be covered in parasitic urban sprawl in and around Warkworth, Silverdale and north of Albany.

          The housing affordability debate is complex and land release will not help it, in-fact it could perpetuate it indefinitely. Urban planners and Fed Farmers have not always seen eye to eye however the gap is closing and ties are being made. My recommendation is that you get as close as you can to them as they wield some power in places. They even support public transport in rural areas! Who knew!

    • Ash

      Agree entirely, Andrew. Although this is still a pleasant surprise, coming from FF.

  • I’ve been thinking, since I live in Manurewa, and the only reason I live so far from the CBD is because I can not afford to buy a house in the CBD, I cant really see how making more housing available in the CBD is going to help. It is still going to be over priced, and unaffordable for people like me. Your average “non-management” type person who is still earning 40-55k a year, and has 3 kids isnt going to want to live in a 2 bedroom apartment, when they can buy a 3 bedroom house in papakura for the same price.
    There is an argument that more houses means the prices will fall, but they wont fall that much. There are 3 young couples at my work looking to buy a house, their first one. None of them can afford more than 400k for a house, which seems alot (since I paid 200 for my house), and yet, their search area for a decent house is slowly driving them further and further out of town.

    Personally… for me this is New Zealand, a country of green, sun, beaches, mountains, walks, swims, camping, gardens, pets, parks… I wouldnt live in condensed housing if you paid me. I want my kids to be able to play in the yard where I can see, while I am working in the garden or the garage, where my dog can run around, etc.. seems counter-NZ-Life to me to do anything else.

    • Geoff it sounds like you are falling into one of the biggest traps when it comes to this debate, you are thinking about what you personally want and thinking everyone else should have the same. At the moment our housing supply is dominated by stand alone houses houses so for most people, whether they want to or not, they have to live in them. There are a lot of people who would choose to live in terraced houses or even apartments if there was a) more good quality stock b) meant they had much better access to amenities.

      • Bryce P

        Rather than Manhattan-ise, I would rather Amsterdam-use (including the cycle infrastructure of course :-)).
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam

      • Jamie Walton

        I guess the best compromise is to have the right mix and balance of housing options in our housing stock, that suit the desires and constraints of residents, not a one-size-fits-all “mono-culture” of housing (and resident) types in certain areas, i.e., neighbourhoods where people of all ages and income levels can be born, live in a variety of housing types through different stages of their lives, and die, enjoying a full life in the same neighbourhood, if they wish. I think we should avoid rich-poor/young-family-old-disabled “ghettos” at all costs (and incomes). I reckon the best way to do that is to make every place a nice, welcoming place to live, for everyone, and let them choose the place they like that suits them best. It can’t be labelled “social engineering” if it’s for everyone, can it? I think every council has this as their “mission” already, so if it’s “social engineering” it’s already what we’ve voted for (in theory).

      • Matt, I dont think it is a trap. I think I am fairly representative of persons with a family, struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of housing, etc.
        I’m 45, and most of my friends are in the same boat as me. Perhaps we are clinging to an ideal, but it is a good ideal. If we wanted to live in condensed housing, or an apartment, we could do that.. there are plenty of options available.
        If I moved into an apartment, where would I put my motorcycle? Where would I put my tools so I can work on it? Same for my bicycle.. where would I put the paddling pool for the kids to play in the sun? Where would I put the tramp? Where would I let the kids go to play safely, without having to take them somewhere? I can think of hundreds of things that I do, that I have learned, that I would not if I didnt have my own house.

        Besides that.. as I have said, the price of condensed housing and apartments is not “less”, in fact, in the CBD it is considerably higher. Unless you can guarantee prices will go down.. and go down considerably, its pretty much pointless. There has to be a better solution.. a KIWI solution..

        • Bryce P

          Geoff, you are thinking of an apartment in the CBD high rise sense. This is wrong as other options exist and in my, admittedly non expert opinion, can be built at an affordable level while maintaining options for family living (and working on your motorbike). I can show you a very good development that has a double garage, 4 bedrooms and space out front. If this basis were used but the apartments backed on to a semi private shared reserve there would be space aplenty for tramps and an extensive shared play area. The one I mention is only expensive because of it’s location – 200m to Takapuna beach.

        • Geoff but the point is that there are huge numbers of people who aren’t in the same situation as you. ~20% of people in the region live in one person households while ~34% of those listed as families are a couple without children. That means close to 50% of all households in the region only have one or two people in them, some of may not want the hastle that comes with owning a house or may prefer to be closer to amenities provided in places like the city. Its not about saying you should live in an apartment if you don’t want to but about giving people options

          • Matt, the point is, those people, should they not want the hassle, can already live in condensed housing, or an apartment. But most of them do not. How many of that 50% already live in the kind of accommodation you propose already? I’m guessing that what ever the % is, if you double it, you _might_ get the top end of what you could expect the take up of this type of residence might be..

            People are moving further and further away from the CBD because of lifestyle, and because of the cost. The _only_ thing that will change this is if the cost goes down.. My wife and I earn less than 100k between us, and we can barely afford our mortgage of 200k. We certainly couldnt afford 220, or 250, or 300.. and most people around here are in the same boat..

          • Yes there are apartments but most of the stuff in the city centre is crap because it was designed to service a specific market (being the student one). There are a few good apartments/town houses out there but not huge numbers of them. Also I think there is a a bit of movement back towards the CBD and fringe suburbs particularly by younger generations due to the amenity it offers.

          • Well, they might be trying, but as I said, all the “20 somethings” that I know, who are looking for their first home, can not afford anything in the fringe.. they are increasingly looking further and further out..

          • Adam W

            Maybe Geoff should have a look at this excellent post, which I saw via the link for the first time a couple of days ago:
            http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/01/27/auckland-density-illustrated-i-the-inner-city/

          • Adam, I did.. it doesnt really show anything except for a few random people who have chosen to live in those places.. they make up the few percent of people who would (because they already have).

            It certainly does not show how it is cheaper, or better for a family (living wise), etc etc.. Personally, I dont think humans were designed to live in compact spaces right on top of each other. I think it has potentially huge negative effects on the psyche and human nature. Wait till you start getting “apartment rage”..

          • Ash

            Geoff, as far as we can tell, people started out living in hunter-gatherer tribes in very close proximity, then with the advent of agriculture, close-knit villages sprung up, finally some of these grew and became what we now know as towns and cities.

            The point is that I don’t think anyone can draw any valid conclusions about what humans are “designed” to do (frankly I don’t believe it’s a matter of design, but adaptation, but each to their own!). What I think you’ll find actually matters are more tangible things like sound-proofing, safety, visual appeal, affordability, travel/commuting times, connectivity, entertainment and other amenity. Wouldn’t you agree?

            Apartment rage might occur if apts are poorly sound-proofed or if a particularly antisocial neighbour moves in. Sure, a bit of spatial separation provides something of a buffer, but you’ve probably heard about the feuds that occur between country dwellers and sometimes end in violence.

            Huge numbers of people live in apartments in Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, London – most of Europe’s larger cities, in fact. I lived in one myself for 5 years and it was the best place I’ve ever lived.

          • Liz

            Geoff, I do understand the issues that you are raising, but I think that you are missing some of the points that others are trying to make. It is possible to have medium-high density housing that doesn’t involve living “in compact spaces right on top of each other”.
            In the UK, I lived in terraced and semi-detached houses, all of which felt spacious enough for a family (smallest was 3bdrm). Each of these places had an outside space (and actually all had a garden shed as well). I have also stayed several times in apartments – again these were spacious, though possibly more suited to couples/individuals (usually 2bdrms). None were shoeboxes.

            I don’t think that you can say that the only people who want to live in that type of housing in Auckland are those who already do. If similar housing was available in Auckland, I would want to buy it and live in it. The terraced house I lived in for the longest was 4.5m wide, and a friend’s fairly fancy (3bdrm, 2 bathrm, good part of London) terraced house was 6m wide. Property widths in this range would allow for a much greater number of houses in Auckland’s middle suburbs than currently exist, and that in itself should reduce demand and so lower prices.

            Additionally, it was interesting to note that in the UK a ‘house’ has at least two stories. A single storey detached house was referred to as a bungalow, and was usually occupied by the elderly or others who could not use stairs. Pretty much everyone in the UK lives in higher density homes than people in Auckland, and yet they survive just fine.

          • Ash, I think we can. The human physiology is made up to work a certain way, and part of it is requiring certain kinds and amounts of exercise, foods, etc etc.. take away these things and we go mental. There are a number of studies about showing these sorts of things. (also note, that I am a student of history, and also someone who had weight loss surgery because I weighed over 210kg (now 120), and as a part of it, I had to understand who we are and why we are like we are, and how we “work” – I’m not an expert, but I have read some, and been counselled by various experts).

            Liz, I do understand… probably better than I can elucidate. I have a friend who lived in London for 9 years.. he eventually got so sick of the grey, and the concrete, and the 2m of grass he had for a lawn that he came back to NZ (that’s what he tells me anyway – he had a good job, girlfriend etc, so it wasnt an easy choice). One of the great things about living in auckland (or anywhere in NZ really) is the green. I am married to an American, and she, even after 15 years, still marvels at how we can have paddocks, parks, and livestock in the middle of the city. What good is it to compact people into little spaces? What sets us apart is our space, or green, our “liveableness”. I dont want to live in Amsterdam, or Manhatten or anywhere else. I want to live in Auckland, New Zealand.. and I want us to be different to everyone else.. We’re not these other cities.. We’re unique.

          • Ash

            Geoff, given your opinions on the topic (which don’t seem to be much more than assertions), don’t you think it’s kinda funny that residents of Hong Kong (highest density city in the world) have the highest life expectancy of ANY country?

            How about the fact that the average suicide rate in Hong Kong is only 14.6 vs NZ’s 13.2 per 100,000 of population? The rate for the UK is just over half of that of NZ, at 6.9 per 100,000 citizens.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

            Ever ask yourself why 1 million Kiwis (NZ’s brightest and best, in the main) live in those other countries where the “quarter acre paradise” is unheard of?

            If we would start building more apartments we could probably deal to the housing shortage and bring prices down. Personally, at 39 years old I find NZ’s suburbs lifeless and dead boring — there is nothing here for me and I want to live in the CBD.

          • Yep, they are just assertions.
            New Zealanders are not Chinese, and as for the UK, they have a lower suicide rate, but higher rates of other self destructive behaviours.. so its 6 of one..

            Why do they leave? Money and experience for the most part. Not because they want to live in condensed housing.

            Perhaps you should try another suburb.. mines not lifeless and boring.. its cheap, by the sea, has great cycling routes..
            I should point out that my family came here in the early 1800’s as settlers, and perhaps some of that is part of my nature.

  • Sacha

    “Also the $2.8b you mention is actually inflation adjusted out to 2021 and includes things like duplicating the Onehunga line, grade separation of some existing level crossings and extra trains etc. The actual cost of the tunnel by itself in 2012 dollars is about $1.8b.”

    Can we please see that in media statements and letters to the editor any time the $2.8b fantasy figure is trotted out.

    • Greg N

      And also can we get what is the 2021 $ value of the $1.8B “tunnel only” figure quoted in 2012 dollars (and confirm if it has the stations in it) and in the PuFord baseline year (which is 2009?) so that we can include all the facts when we need them.

      The best argument for the CRL naysayers as I see it is to say when people say well its “$3b (or whatever out of someones arse figure they quote) isn’t it?”, is to say,
      “Well actually, the CRL tunnel and stations are only $1.XB and likely to be even less once final design is completed. And is therefore X times cheaper when compared like for like with the $XXB estimated cost of the Puhoi to Wellsford motorway over the same time frame and such. And regardless the final cost of the CRL won’t be more than $2.XB all up provided we start soon so its its completed by 2021.

      And in terms Billions per km of track (something Gerry wafts on about at times saying its the most expensive transport project in the planet per km), it will still be way cheaper than building that tunnel under the harbour. And by building the CRL we may well in fact delay for a decade or more – or even remove – the need for that expensive tunnel crossing to be built.

  • Bryce P

    Look out. GB will have to arrange a motorway and AT can chip in with a parking building.
    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10856953&ref=w7app

  • harrymc

    Are you sure this is from Federated Farmers? I would have thought they could afford a proper proof reader. Besides “weather”, they also misspell Manukau, “seam” and let’s not mention apostrophes.
    I have seen these pieces from Fed. Farmers previously; they have not penetrated the Nats consciousness as yet.

    • Greg N

      Like the rest of us do these days (those who post here anyway, including me), they probably use a spell checker, not a grammar checker/proof reader for all their communications.

      All those words you flagged are correctly spelled, they are just not correct in the context they are used.
      And yes, there a place called “Manakau” – its north of Otaki as I recall.

      Don’t know why you say Fed. Farmers aren’t listened to by the Nats, as who else has them in their back pocket if not the Nats?
      And if the Nats don’t listen to Fed Farmers, who are they listening to these days?

      • harrymc

        Sew you’re point is that sow long as the spell checker approves its alright two ewes them without looking too cheque for correct use? Using a spell checker instead of self-proofing is laziness and if someone is lazy in that regard what laziness might exist in their thinking also?
        And spelling Manukau wrong in an Auckland context is unforgivable.
        My point about the Nats is that I have read these pieces from Federated Farmers in the past saying precisely what they have said here. I thought it was encouraging at that time but I have not noticed any sign that they are being listened to.

  • Sacha

    Am hoping you can edit out some of the grossest libertarian excesses of that Long Bay post before publishing.

    At least acknowledge the comments about the disproportionate impact on poor people prompted by Stu’s recent post on demand pricing, rather than pretend the playing field is level.

    • Feel free to comment to that effect Sacha, we welcome debate.

    • Bryce P

      Seriously off topic but i have to respond. Enough about congestion charging and it hurting the poor. I own 3 cars but if I were working in the CBD and had to travel during peak times, I would be taking the bus. The cost of car ownership and the use of is one of the biggest hurdles to those on low incomes to getting ahead. I have worked in the auto industry for a long time and i can tell you the a lot of low income people are spending a massive proportion of their earnings just in car ownership. There is a whole industry out there in the used car market that is keeping these people poor. ‘low weekly’ payments and ‘balloon payments’ coupled with high interest rates are doing more damage than GST on food or any congestion charges will do by a long shot. Don’t believe me? Happy to talk about it any tine. The mods have my email

      • harrymc

        Bryce,
        That is one of the best comments on here for many a long day. The amount of this country’s capital tied up in motor vehicles is astronomical.

        • MillAhab

          Not to mention the amount of the current account that could be attributed to Motor Vehicles.

          Consider:
          Imported Fuel
          Imported Vehicles
          Imported Savings (to finance purchase)
          Imported Parts

          The entire vehicle fleet would each year be a significant contributor to NZ’s ongoing current account deficits.

        • jonno1

          Harry, you may be right in saying that a lot of capital is invested in motor vehicles, although I suspect the average bloke doesn’t spend more than $10k or so on a car. But I think Bryce is talking more about loan sharks and general financial illiteracy. I’ve done some mentoring and budget advising and believe me, income has almost nothing to do with “poverty”. Some professionals on dual incomes can’t cope, while other families survive on an unbelievably low income. Sacha’s point about regressive costs is a bit disingenuous too – it’s all about budgeting and living within your means really.

          • Bryce P

            You’re right jonno and the comment was in relation to the effects of congestion and parking pricing on the poor. While selling new cars (which I had no problem with and several times talked people out of buying a new car because they could not afford it) I witnessed how used cars were sold and financed and was sickened by the practice. I have seen these people trapped in a loop of buying cars with low weekly payments only for the car to break down, which the owners do not have enough income to fix so they trade it in on a ‘new’ second hand car. They get a great trade in price (includes the remaining payments of the old car) which unfortunately they cannot see has been added to the retail price of the ‘new’ car (ie full retail – no discount). This then puts the weekly payment price up which is unaffordable (remember they were still paying off the old broken car) so a ‘balloon’ payment is added to the end of the loan term (which in itself is usually as long as possible to ensure payments are low). This balloon payment is 2 to 3 times above what the car will be worth at the end of the loan term. The purchaser cannot afford the ‘balloon’ so the car dealers nicely add this into the price of another ‘new’ car. All of this because they are conditioned to ‘needing’ a car.

            As for the average bloke, most cars are financed so finance costs and depreciation have to be factored into cost of ownership. Two of my cars are under company ownership and of those, one is financed. Obviously I can claim GST, depreciation and running costs on these but even so I am angling to reduce this to one multi purpose vehicle (one is a dedicated off road vehicle). The family car and is paid for and just requires servicing and fuel. Depreciation is still an issue but I plan to look after it carefully and keep it for a long time. Yes, I keep a very close eye on what each is costing and am going to get that down to the minimum possible.

      • Yes that is exactly right, people often don’t realise just how much it costs to maintain and run each car. To me the goal of improving things like public transport as well as things like walking and cycling is not to replace the car but to reduce the need for it. Families that can move from 3 cars to 2, or two cars to one have the potential to save huge amounts on their transport costs.

        • Glen

          Bryce, Harry, Mill, Matt – can’t agree with this sub-topic more. Reducing the need for cars is a critical part of PT/walking/cycling improvements. When we looked for a house earlier this year, we made it a priority that it be within biking distance of my work (Onehunga). This allowed us to save the money poured into a second car and put it into the house and other things we wanted. Friends often gape at how much we spent on the house (which isn’t actually that much in the context of mad Auckland house prices…) but they begin to nod and understand once I explain how much we save through only having one car and not being locked into the associated costs of a second car.

          Furthermore, the car is a popular compact hatchback, which is more than enough for the two of us, the baby and associated gear. When the in-laws came to visit this holidays we hired a minivan to ferry us up and down country, yes there was a small cost direct rental cost involved, but the indirect cost saving (fuel, repairs…) throughout the year dwarfs it.

          I cannot agree strongly enough with Bryce that freeing up people’s income through cheap, reliable PT is one sure way to enable social mobility and advancement.

          At the same time, there is still so much more that can be easily done to promote walking and cycling (in particular)! I bike commute along Rockfield Road, it has a cycle lane for a out a third of its length (at the top end between Great South Road and One Tree Hill College) but (as far as I can tell) the asphalt is the same width all the way down, and even though it’s only marked for one traffic lane each way there is no bike lane for the rest of the way. Why not? How much safer would simply marking a bike lane be for the kids biking up Rockfield Road from the south? So many low-handing fruit…

          • Sacha

            I agree the cost of vehicle ownership is poorly understood. At bigger picture level, the Greens have also been admirably clear about the burden to our nation of oil/petrol imports and the long-term benefits and opportunities of reducing those.

          • Bryce P

            Hi Glen. About the cycle lanes, go to http://caa.org.nz/ and let them know. They may already be working with AT on this but, if not, will be happy to hear from people who use the route. The squeaky wheel gets oiled.

          • jonno1

            @Sacha 4.13pm – yes, the cost of vehicle ownership is key. And certainly reduced fuel imports would help our BoP. But it’s odd that the same Greens oppose self-sufficiency in fossil fuels, go figure.

            I always pay cash for a car (and any other depreciating asset) and am under no illusions as to lifetime costs, due to being a bit obsessive with spreadsheets. I prefer to buy a car new or near new, treat it as a sunk cost, and keep it till it’s around 10 years old. Any residual value is a bonus! This approach suits me, but not everyone of course.

          • Glen

            Hi Bryce,
            Thanks for your pointer re the CAA. The wheel has squeaked, as it were :)

        • Jennifer

          My brother and his wife have just downsized from two cars to one. There are times when they need two cars but plan on using Cityhop. I don’t know that Cityhop is widely used at present and it’s not accessible to those living further from the CBD. It would certainly help other families to think of how to use PT and other travel modes and downsize on car ownership.

  • JeffT

    I’m not sure whether Federated Farmers give a stuff whether Auckland has better public transport or not. They’re just concerned about the city’s growth gobbling up farmland and want to see the building development going upwards rather than outwards to preserve this rural land.

    In my time working in the UK I was impressed with the planning over there where, say in the greater London area, with a much larger population than NZ, there is still very clear separation of urban and rural development and life compared to this sprawling mess government and councils have allowed to happen in the Auckland region.

    • SteveRos

      The green belt system is great, seems to be common in most countries in Europe (western at least), i.e.. a clear line between town and rural land. Shame we have so many opportunistic developers/speculators but guess that is to do with general lax design/planning standards and the economic make up as well here.

  • Sacha

    I applaud Fed Farmers for speaking out about prime productive agricultural land being wasted on more sprawling suburbs just because that’s more convenient for land-bankers and lazy developers.

    I imagine they might also support freeing up roadspace for delivery trucks they depend on by investing in better public transport, if the argument is made.

  • George D

    The land south of Auckland is incredibly good farming land. It’s excellent. To lose it to sprawl would be a huge loss to the country and to the world (trust me, most agricultural land is much less productive – we don’t know how lucky we are). It’s nice to see Fed Farmers being on the right side of an issue just once.

  • Christopher T

    Here’s an interesting academic contribution to the density debate: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852329/

  • Peter H

    “The city and the countryside are a single unit: if one can do without the other, it is the country, not the city, the farmer, not the Urban middle class” Lewis Munford
    It is very good to have the country side talking about what is good for Auckland. But it is more important for us in the cities to prove that what we do is good for the farmer, Prove that what come after CRL is good for the country side.
    Because it is the farmer that choices where he/she sends produce, where he/she spends income or sets up supporting bureaucracy.
    And may be the urban sprawl developer and the farmer are in conflict with their political servants on what is good for the country side.

  • Sacha

    Geoff, it’s not all about apartments. Previous posts here have shown how traditional suburbs like Freemans Bay provide denser housing already.

    We also need more terraced housing with modest private yards and other non-highrise forms. Hardly any are being built for people to choose. Not everyone wants a single-level suburban house, but there are already heaps of those to choose from for those who do.

  • SJC

    They got it wrong. Auckland is Auckland, and New Zealand is New Zealand. I know, I know, Auckland is officially a part of New Zealand, but the two are so different in many ways.

  • I thought all farmers went to boarding school and were taught to spell.

  • JeffT

    All farmers are taught to spell? Not so sure on that one lol!

    Of course the productivity commission released its report earlier last year calling for the immediate release of land for housing development. I believe the government, largely through Bill English, were broadly in favour of this. Federated farmers are clearly not in favour of this switch in use of potentially agriculturally-productive land.

    It’s not often you see a conflict of view between these very strong groups in New Zealand that works in favour if public transport!

  • Lisa

    Note also that the author if this piece was none other than Connor English. The right honourable finance ministers brother

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