A winning strategy for Auckland recognises that much can be achieved through purely local initiatives even if government needs to take the lead for some aspects.
For example, Auckland’s transport woes are due largely to poor local decision making. Money is squandered on safety projects like constructing roundabouts and installing traffic lights instead of focussing on the core business of transporting people and goods efficiently. The safety record in Auckland is actually very good while traffic congestion is very bad – it’s obvious where the money should be spent.
There’s also a budget problem. Council selling off assets to fund services is like selling off the family silver to pay for groceries – it’s unsustainable. When public land or buildings are sold, that money should be reinvested in infrastructure, so the value isn’t lost. If you can’t get people to and from work efficiently the nice stuff has to be cut; you can’t afford to do both so concentrate on what’s important!
Auckland also needs smart thinking for its transport vision to provide a comprehensive and responsive transport solution. This should encourage partnerships that bring a range of transport options into play, with Uber, shared vehicle providers and micro-mobility included in a unified system. By integrating all available options we allow people to make their own journey decisions rather than being forced onto a bus that doesn’t go where they want to go, when they want to go.
The next major issue is housing and the lack of certainty for the next generation. More intensive residential development around public transport nodes is smart, but the implementation is hampered by boxed-in thinking. Demolishing existing homes to build more homes in established neighbourhoods is counterproductive. Unfortunately, Auckland Council can’t afford the infrastructure to develop land on the urban boundary, so the Council heaps stress on already built-up areas. To help, government could invest in the infrastructure, similar to the National Party’s policy of providing councils with around $50,000 dollars for every housing consent issued.
Finally, we need a plan to tackle inflation and the cost of living, which is out of control. This needs solutions from a government that’s unfortunately been distracted by Covid and let the economy slide. Labour’s actions to date have been short-term political moves that have left people struggling to cope.
At a local level, Auckland can move towards a higher wage economy that’s more able to withstand inflationary pressures by being a hub for higher paid jobs in technology and engineering. Creating an attractive environment for these types of businesses should be at the forefront of the city’s long-term strategy.
Make this a great place to work and a wonderful place to live with clean beaches and a healthy Hauraki Gulf and we’ve got the city we know this is supposed to be.