Guest post by Stephen Berry
Two arms of council are wrestling over government land.
Auckland Council’s economic arm, ATEED – an acronym standing for the unwieldy title of Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development Ltd, aka Council’s Tourism Tossers -- wants half of the 20 ha section of land at Hobsonville Point put aside for the building of a “film studio campus” to “become this city’s Wellywood.”
This puts it offside with the Council’s property arm, which would like to see the section used for houses, apartments and a shopping and commercial centre.
Auckland Council Property Limited (ACPL) says the proposal by Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development Ltd (ATEED) is stupid. I agree. (As stupid as the bloody acronyms – Ed.) It is cases like this that demonstrate why politicians and bureaucrats should have absolutely nothing to do with economic development, and why I support cutting ATEED’s $250 million budget.”
The Council should allow all of the 20 hectares in question to be used for residential and commercial purposes rather than attempting to pick winners by building their own “film studio campus.” Clearly, nobody who is willing to risk their own money has put forward the idea, so ATEED’s assertion that building a school will create jobs is simply superfluous. They are essentially asking businesses already providing jobs to subsidise something they think might – taking a punt on that with other people’s money.
Should a private company put forward a request for consent to build a film studio and campus in the area, then I have no problem with that. If a private company has applied for permission to build a film school, then they have clearly done their homework, researched whether there is sufficient demand for a school and determined they have a good chance of making a profit building one.
If however a bureaucracy is the only organisation putting forward such an idea, expecting ratepayers to subsidise their losses, then it is likely building one will only result in a subsidised white elephant.
Stephen Berry is Affordable Auckland candidate for Mayor of Auckland and Councillor of Albany in 2016
UPDATE: As I’m finding myself saying increasingly, David Seymour gets it right:
A perfect reminder of why Auckland Council should sell both ATEED and Auckland Council Property Ltd.
Auckland Council has too many competing objectives. A piece of land that should be developed by the private sector has not one, but two arms of Council scrapping over it.
On one hand, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) wants to build a film studio. What has the film industry done wrong to deserve Auckland Council’s intrusion?
On the other hand, the Council’s property arm wants to build houses on the land. What possible advantage could Auckland Council have at producing houses people want at an affordable price?
The Council should stick to its knitting: providing essential infrastructure at an affordable price so Aucklanders can get on with building their city.
Somehow I doubt Aucklanders paying 15% rates were hoping to become part investors in a film studio…