7 Mar 2012

Call for nationwide port strategy

1:10 pm on 7 March 2012

A freight company is calling for a national ports strategy so the country's 13 ports co-operate instead of competing with each other.

Mainfreight's comments follow a proposal mooted by a former chairman of Northland Ports Corporation to move Auckland's port to Northland.

Former Northland Ports Corporation chairman Mike Daniel, now a shareholder only, has long campaigned for Auckland's port to shift north.

"Auckland will still have their port, but instead of it being in the middle of the Waitemata and downtown, as an eyesore, it will be up north."

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid says capital for port infrastructure is spread too thinly across the country.

Mr Braid says a national strategy is needed, so the ports can work together, but the Government is burying its head in the sand over the matter.

"We've got transport ministers, both Steven Joyce and now Gerry Brownlee, suggesting that internal competiton is the best way to find efficiency, when in fact the competition is coming from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne."

However he says shifting Auckland's port to Northland is simply not feasible and would cost exporters and importers time and money.

The Auckland Council has opted for a wide-ranging review of the future needs of the Auckland port, including the roles to be played by ports in Northland and Tauranga.