Super Fund proposal to build and operate Auckland light rail

The Government has revealed an ‘unsolicited proposal’ from the New Zealand Super Fund to design, build and operate two light rail projects in Auckland.

Grant Robertson and Phil Twyford: Auckland light rail a step closer

A modern, rapid transit light rail network to transform Auckland is a step closer with Cabinet agreeing to launch a procurement process, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced today.

“The Government is committed to progressing light rail to transform Auckland. It will be a magnet for private investment in urban renewal and will be able to carry 11,000 commuters per hour – the equivalent of four lanes of motorway,” Phil Twyford says.

“We are investigating innovative solutions to tackle congestion and build a vibrant and modern city.”

“The New Zealand Transport Agency will now set up a robust process to explore a range of possible procurement, financing and project delivery options. This process will invite and assess all potential proposals and report back to the Ministers of Finance and Transport. The Transport Agency will work with the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport in this process,” Grant Robertson says.

The procurement process covers both the city to Mangere and the city to North West lines. The recently announced 10-year transport plan for Auckland earmarked $1.8 billion in seed funding with the option of securing private investment in the network.

“Last month, the Government received an unsolicited proposal from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which proposed they would form an international consortium to design, build and operate Auckland’s light rail network,” Phil Twyford says.

“The Government will not be commenting further on the proposal other than to say that we welcome the strong interest in light rail and acknowledge that any investors will require a reasonable commercial return. The procurement process agreed by Cabinet will review all other proposals in the same way as the Super Fund’s proposal is assessed.

“It’s good to see that investors recognise this project will be a game-changer for Auckland commuters and the first step in tackling Auckland’s ever-increasing congestion,” Phil Twyford says.

This would be a variation on a public-private partnership, with in involvement in the Super Fund  working alongside international investors in a consortium.

The Super Fund is a Government owned fund – that means a taxpayer owned fund. The new Government has just resumed putting more money into the fund after the National Government suspended payments when the Global Financial Crisis struck – it didn’t make sense to borrow heavily and put money aside as an investment at the same time.

The Super Fund explains it’s purpose and mandate:

In response to the challenge of New Zealand’s ageing population, the NZ Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 established:

  • the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, a pool of assets on the Crown’s balance sheet; and
  • the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, a Crown entity charged with managing the Fund.

The Government uses the Fund to save now in order to help pay for the future cost of providing universal superannuation. In this way the Fund helps smooth the cost of superannuation between today’s taxpayers and future generations.

The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation is the Crown entity charged with managing and administering the Fund. It operates by investing initial Government contributions – and returns generated from these investments – in New Zealand and internationally, in order to grow the size of the Fund over the long term.

Government contributions to the Super Fund were suspended between 2009 and 2017. In December 2017 contributions resumed, with an initial payment of $500 million planned for the financial year to 2018. From around 2035/36, the Government will begin to withdraw money from the Fund to help pay for New Zealand Superannuation. The Fund will continue to grow until it peaks in size in 2070s.

The Fund is therefore a long-term, growth-oriented, global investment fund.

So for the Super Fund to invest in Auckland’s light rail projects they would have to see them as growth orientated. This would be a financial risk, unless the Government guaranteed a reasonable rate of return.

If light rail gets superceded by other more flexible and more economic forms of transport like electric buses and cars, or if less centralised work arrangements (like working from home) become more prevalanet, it could become an expensive white elephant. The Government could end up propping up light rail to protect the Super Fund investment.

How unsolicited was the Super Fund proposal? Investing in New Zealand infrastructure projects has been proposed before – by Winston Peters.

On re-establishing contributions on 18 July 2017:  Only One Party Can Be Trusted on NZ Super

“Labour, like National, has a record of flip flopping on NZ Super,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“No party can be trusted on NZ Super, except NZ Super’s long standing friend – New Zealand First.

“We’ll restore contributions in full to the NZ Superannuation Fund, so there will be a nest egg to cushion demand, which was the original purpose for its establishment.”

On investing in infrastructure on 28 September 2017: Cullen Fund Performs, But National Taxes It

“New Zealand First would encourage the fund’s managers to invest in infrastructure in New Zealand so it works for New Zealand’s long term interests,” says Mr Peters.

Maybe that’s where the NZ Super Fund got the idea from.

Investing in Auckland light rail will only be in New Zealand’s long term interests if it is financially viable.

Will the NZ Super Fund only consider big city projects, or will they also consider investing in regional projects?

They will need to be careful they don’t come to rely too much on local government projects. Andy investment fund should spread it’s risks.

Clinton ticket sales struggling

This doesn’t surprise me (if true) – an evening with Hillary Clinton does not appear to be a sellout.

If they have trouble giving tickets away perhaps they could package a free ticket with a free Clinton book – but that may make it harder giving them away.

An Evening With Hillary Clinton tickets are selling for $195 and $295 – see Ticketek.

If she came to Dunedin I might go to listen to her out of curiosity, but I wouldn’t pay much if anything. Same for Obama or Trump.

Auckland transport plan announced

Labour Minister Phil Twyford and mayor Phil Goff have announced a ten year transport plan for Auckland.

While it will bolster rail, cycleways and walkways, it includes major spending on new roads and motorway improvements links, and will rely in part on Public Partnerships and toll roads as well as a regional fuel tax.

RNZ: New $30b plan to tackle Auckland transport woes unveiled

The government and Auckland Council have announced the new Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) at Newmarket train station today.

Billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction programme, $28 billion will be poured into light rail and roading projects at Penlink and Mill Rd.

Heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements and more dedicated cycle lanes are also part of the plan.

The projects will be funded by $4.4 billion raised from the new Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue the National Land Transport Fund and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions.

ATAP major investments include:

  • Committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements.
  • Light rail
  • Eastern busway (Panmure-Botany)
  • Airport-Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a high quality public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station
  • Bus priority programme, to more rapidly grow Auckland’s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services
  • Albany-Silverdale bus improvements
  • Lower cost East West Link to address key freight issues in the area
  • Papakura-Drury motorway widening
  • First phase of the Mill Road corridor
  • Penlink (tolled)
  • Walking and cycling programme to expand the network and complete key connections (e.g. SkyPath)
  • Significant programme of safety improvements
  • New transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth
  • Network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of our existing network
  • Rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades

Read the full plan here

And of course there are critics (apart from National). RNZ: Transport plan ‘too little, too late’ for south Auckland

It’s been billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction project – but South Aucklanders say a government transport plan doesn’t go far enough.

But Jatin Khurana, who travels from Papakura to Ellerslie every day for work, said waiting 10 years for just the first section to be upgraded wasn’t going to make much of an impact.

“The first phase – those few kilometres – that’s going to have a bottleneck effect so it will not really improve the situation,” he said.

“I think it’s too little, too late.”

Mr Khurana said the heavy congestion on the Southern Motorway and the increasing traffic on Mill Road had driven him to take the train.

Stuff: Auckland transport fix: Key facts

Trains and light rail versus roads and buses

The Government has an obvious preference for railway lines over roads, but there are concerns about the rail option in the US, where in many areas passenger numbers are static or falling.

Installing railway lines is expensive, and it is relatively inflexible, both in the short term and the long term. It’s far easier to deploy buses over a wider area, and to move buses to where they are most needed at any given time.

I suspect the preference for rail is because it can be electric, while battery run buses don’t seem to have caught on yet. And roads for buses can mean roads available for cars as well.

But what if there are big advances in battery and fast charging technologies, making electric buses more viable? That would be a great alternative energy industry to invest in, but if successful it could make newly installed  light rail infrastructure limited and expensive.

Stuff: As Government signals big light rail spend, public transport concerns grow in US

As the Government signals it wants to spend billions on light rail in Auckland and billions less on major roading projects in the decade ahead, worries about the future of public transport are growing in the US.

Those concerns were summed up by a story in The Washington Post last month, headlined Falling transit ridership poses an ’emergency’ for cities, experts fear.

Data showed 2017 was the lowest year of overall transit ridership in the US since 2005. A 5 per cent decline in bus ridership was the main problem, but some commentators suggest the figures indicate light rail is also struggling, given the heavy investment in the mode in recent years.

In the US, the debate about light rail is particularly fierce, with skeptics often suggesting buses will do the job perfectly well if organised properly, as well as being lower cost and more flexible.

In its transport policy for the 2017 election, Labour said light rail to Auckland Airport was part of a range of projects that would ease congestion. “A world-class city in the 21st century needs a rail connection from its CBD to its airport.”

But that is just one route. The population is scattered across a wide area in Auckland.

Auckland Transport said light rail would have fewer stops, but be more frequent and travel faster than buses.

Fewer stops and more frequent only for those with easy access to the rail routes.

Light rail also had much greater capacity than buses and cars.

Really? Again, the capacity is only where their are rail routes. And it depends on how many buses or cars you use. Obviously, one train has more capacity than one car, but it’s not a one to one equation.

Among the most forceful opponents of light rail in the US is Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. O’Toole blogs as The Antiplanner’ “dedicated to the sunset of government planning”. He’s a big supporter of buses over light rail.

Last October Cato published a paper of his called The Coming Transit Apocalypse. In it he said public transport use in the US had been falling since 2014, with many major systems having “catastrophic declines”.

Ride-hailing services, such as Uber, were the most serious threat “as some predict that within five years those ride-hailing services will begin using driverless cars, which will reduce their fares to rates competitive with transit, but with far more convenient service”.

He made the extreme prediction: “This makes it likely that outside of a few very dense areas, such as New York City, transit will be extinct by the year 2030.”

He did note that in 2014, transit ridership in the US reached its highest level since 1956,with 10.75 billion trips, but was not impressed. “This is hardly a great achievement, however, as increased urban populations meant that annual transit trips per urban resident declined from 98 in 1956 to 42 in 2014.”

n a similar vein is a report published last July by private Chapman University in California, called The Great Train Robbery, written by high profile urbanists Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox.

According to that report, many new transit lines, including light rail, built in US cities had not reduced the percentage of people who commuted alone by private car.

“The focus on new rail services rather than on buses has failed to improve basic mobility for those who need it and has been associated with a decline in transit’s share of commutes in some cities.”

n a similar vein is a report published last July by private Chapman University in California, called The Great Train Robbery, written by high profile urbanists Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox.

According to that report, many new transit lines, including light rail, built in US cities had not reduced the percentage of people who commuted alone by private car.

“The focus on new rail services rather than on buses has failed to improve basic mobility for those who need it and has been associated with a decline in transit’s share of commutes in some cities.”

An Auckland Transport report said more than a third of employment growth in Auckland between 2013 and 2046 – about 100,000 jobs – was expected to be within 5km of the city centre.

That’s still a lot of people outside the city centre.

What if there is a major move towards dispersal of the workforce, around the city and to cheaper areas elsewhere in the country? It’s easy to re-deploy buses, but impractical to re-deploy railway lines.

However this could all be moot. The current Government seems intent on benefiting some with better rail links, but not addressing the needs of those who live away from railway lines.

And regarding the light rail link to the airport – what if we stop using fossil fuels but solar powered long haul aircraft don’t take off?

Or more feasible, what if small capacity shuttle air travel becomes a thing – this could render railway links obsolete.

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton to speak in New Zealand

For those who are interested and have a few hundred dollars to spare Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak in Auckland in May.

AN EVENING WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Free from the constraints of running, Secretary Clinton will share the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.

Secretary Clinton will take audiences on a journey; What Happened and what’s next. A story of resilience, Secretary Clinton explains how she got back up after a loss, and how we can all look ahead.

An illuminating insight into Secretary Clinton’s experience as a woman in politics — she lets loose on this topic, and others, in a way she never has before.

Official media release:

Leading Australian business events provider, The Growth Faculty, has announced today, An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton, a series of three exclusive and intimate events with Secretary Clinton to take place in in Auckland (Monday 7 May 2018), Melbourne (Thursday 10 May 2018) and Sydney (Friday 11 May 2018).

First-access tickets are on sale and only available via www.thegrowthfaculty.com for a limited time, ahead of general release. Ticketing information is attached within the media release.

An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton will see Secretary Clinton provide her personal insights into the 2016 US presidential election, its aftermath and what the future holds, sharing stories from her New York Times bestseller, What Happened.

“From lawyer and activist, to first lady, senator, secretary of state and first female presidential candidate of a major American political party, Secretary Clinton’s extraordinary career and story of resilience is one that business leaders and the wider community will find both fascinating and inspiring,” says The Growth Faculty Managing Director, Karen Beattie.

It’s certainly not something I would be interested in going to if she was speaking at the local hall, let alone in Auckland.

No evidence that the Russians have influenced this event.

Media “let’s not do this” on TPPA protest meeting

According to The Daily Blog there was a ‘Let’s Not Do This!” public meeting protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership lst night in Auckland, the first in a nationwide tour by Jane Kelsey, Laila Harre and Burcu Kilic.

But the media seem to have a ‘let’s not do this’ attitude to TPPA protest these days, a big change from two years ago. I can’t find any reports.

Even The Daily Blog seems to be largely disinterested given scant reaction shown there.

Here is the only feedback on the meeting I can find, at The Standard:

At last night’s anti-TPPA-11 meeting in Auckland, Laila Harre said that there is no protection for NZ sovereignty over it’s labour/employment laws in the TPP agreement our government plans to sign on 8th March.

Harre has been researching and writing a thesis on it.

She says such agreements cannot protect our labour laws and this needs to be done through the ILO.

Under the TPPA that our government plans to sign, they could be sued for the labour regulations the government is planning to implement.

Harre and Kelsey say that if this agreement is signed, it will be used as a model for other trade agreements.

Kelsey said some in the labour caucus won’t to maintain such a model. But this model is in crisis, and we need to respectful campaign to shift the balance in the government to something more progressive.

National Day of anti-TPPA action on Sunday 4th March.

Demo in Wellington on day of signing, 8 March.

FUrther meetings around NZ before then.

The protest movement seems to be in ‘let’s not do this’ mode.

Media funkstille as far as I can see.

A fan of the Banksy exhibition

Contrasting with ‘The Auckland Banksy exhibition sucks’ is a post by Martyn Bradbury praising the Banksy exhibition.

The Daily Blog: The Liberal Agenda – Banksy Exhibition – 5 stars

By turning up in your thousands you tell Banksy his work matters and you fulfil the spirit of danger his art exists in by scaring the bejesus out of the Government security agencies who will be inevitably monitoring the exhibition.

The ability to criticise freely because of zero consequence is a power beyond branding and that’s why on its first day a staggering 1800 packed the Aotea Centre to get the chance to see his work up close.

To suggest missing this exhibition would be akin to a book burning is not an overstatement in any measure.

So he’s a fan.

By turning up in your thousands you tell Banksy his work matters and you fulfil the spirit of danger his art exists in by scaring the bejesus out of the Government security agencies who will be inevitably monitoring the exhibition.

Let the GCSB and SIS know that are in trouble if the revolution ever erupts.

Bradbury has turned his hope for starting ‘the revolution’ to an exhibition staged by the ex-manager of a street artist.

I doubt that the GCSB or SIS will be at risk of their bejesus scared all that much.

 

‘The Auckland Banksy exhibition sucks’

Off-street art from a famous street artist – exhibited by a con artist?

From ‘rincewind4x2’: The Auckland Banksy exhibition sucks

I went Sunday and came out throughly dissappointed. Here’s why.

First major problem was the cost; $35 (before “fees”). That is really expensive for any art exhibition, but considering this is an anarchist, anti-consumerist, satirical street artist exhibition, it’s pretty fucking exorbitant.

As for the art itself, it was fine … sorta.

The thing is; Banksy’s art itself isn’t actually that impressive. Compared with the fucking wizardy other London street art can be, Banksy’s stencil art is kinda mediocre. What makes his art awesome is what it says and where he puts it. Which is cool, but when you take it out of it’s original context and pigeonhole it into some random exhibition it loses a lot of the punch that makes it so kick-ass in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like Banksy’s work, but because he actually goes to Palestine to paint anti-war sentiments, and goes to the worlds most prestigious art galleries to hang up his own Dadaist creations, none of that really comes up in this exhibit though.

Take this image I took (which sums up my sentiments about this exhibit).

Prints like this make up about 70% of the exhibit, and that image looks identical to this image I got from google, which looks identical to how I saw it.

What’s worse is that of the prints there are usually about 2-6 of each, with little to no variety between them all, so you’re paying to see duplicates, which really just doubles down on the lack of originality.

So that was the problem with the art, now lets get into the political side of things. Remember how I said how Banksy was a “anarchist, anti-consumerist, satirical street artist”? How ironic would it be if an exhibit by him was shamelessly sponsored by a bunch of corporations that had nothing to do with him for exposure?

…The first thing you see when you enter Aotea center is a car decaled with all they corporate sponsors logo’s hideously mimicked in his style.

But honestly, by far the most obnoxious, lack of self-aware bullshit of all of this was that you LITERALLY HAD TO EXIT THROUGH THE FUCKING GIFT SHOP.

Yeah fuck this exhibit, if you want to see Banksy look at some of his images on Imgur, do not contribute to this bullshit.

PeterGivenbless:

I got down-voted on a previous thread for saying this but really Banksy is just a political cartoonist whose canvas is the world; taken out of their situational contexts, his images resemble the type of political satire that would be just as at home in any mainstream newspaper.

Paulfknwalsh:

I was lucky enough to go to the first major exhibition by him (Turf War) when I was living in East London in the early 2000s – it was hilarious + subversive. (Eg, there was a live pig with “FUCK PIGS” spraypainted on it in a pen in the centre of the warehouse.) Oh, and it was free, like most stuff he’s done. (‘Dismal Land’ had £3 entry tickets, limited to 500 people a day, but that was the only one with an entry fee.)

This show, though, is just a cash grab by his ex manager, to make money off suckers. There’s a good reason that another artist (Adnate) painted ‘a version of Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ with Lazarides as Judas and Banksy, behind his trademark monkey mask, as Jesus’ when this exhibition was displayed in Melbourne.

It makes it worse that ratepayer money is funding it.. it’s like finding out the Council has just bought ten thousand pairs of Adidos sneakers with four stripes for its staff to wear. :\

QUILTBAGs:

Makes council members happy they used public money to promote anti-establishment art.

Kally-0:

I was kind of amused by the fact that there is a sign describing he how he had an ‘acrimonious’ split with his manager Steve Lazarides, and then as I am leaving I notice that the whole thing has been curated by Steve Lazarides.

The exhibition promotion The Art of Banksy clearly shows Lazarides as curator…

…but unless you know he is Banksy’s ex manager who has acrimoniously split that will mean nothing to you.

The Art of Banksy

Bringing the iconic artist of Bristol to the centre of Auckland, the exhibition takes visitors on journey, exploring the questionable genius of the world’s most infamous street artist with a retrospective of over 80 of the artists’ off-street masterpieces.

I thought he became famous for provocative on-street art.

Most famously known for his stencilling technique, Banksy’s artwork combines dark humour with underlying political messages and social themes, which have made him one of the biggest contemporary artists of our time.

Maybe Lazarides is a bit of a con artist.

Anti-Israel speech in Auckland mosque

Stuff reports:  Calls to expel Iran diplomat from NZ after fiery anti-Israel speech ‘fuels radicalism’

An Iranian diplomat has been accused of fuelling radicalism with a fiery, anti-Israel speech at an Auckland mosque.

Jewish community leaders want Hormoz Ghahremani, first secretary of the Iranian Embassy, to be expelled after he appeared alongside speakers who denied the Holocaust and called for the “surgical removal” of Israel.

In his speech, Ghahremani said Israel was trying to “deceive the world” by pretending to be an advocate of peace when in fact it was fuelling terrorism and extremism in the Middle East to divert attention from the Palestine issue.

Muslim nations needed to unite against “the anti-human regime of Israel and discern their common enemy with profound insight”, he said.

He said Quds Day was established “to deal a powerful punch to the mouth of the cancerous tumour known as evil Israel,” and cited Imam Khomeini as saying that “if every Muslim were to spit in the face of Israel, Israel would drown”.

The annihilation of the “Zionist regime” had begun, he said, and Israel would not last for another 25 years.

Community elder Sayed Taghi Derhami, a Mt Albert accountant, told attendees at the event that Israel was a “cancerous gland” that had to be “surgically removed”.

It’s good to see this exposed, but sad to see this sort of divisive rhetoric in New Zealand.

Members of the Jewish community say it’s outrageous that the representative of a foreign Government should make such comments. The speech was in June but has only just come to light.

Ghahremani told Stuff he agreed the speech could be seen as inflammatory, but it had to be taken in the context of the event at which it was given. He spoke at a gathering to mark the annual Quds Day, initiated by Iran in the 1970s to support Palestinians and oppose Zionism.

Contacted at the Iranian Embassy in Wellington, Ghahremani said his speech was supposed to be private and he was upset it had been put on the internet. “It was something private, a small gathering. I was there to reflect the position of the Iranian Government.

“We do not recognise the Israeli Government, that’s not a secret. But we are not against their existence.”

A small private gathering – but it is still inflammatory and divisive language. Someone saw a need to make it public – good on them.

But it needs to be remembered that that is just a small minority. Coincidentally:

News this weekend of the aggressively-worded speeches comes after rallies against racism. New Green MP Golriz Ghahraman denounced racism at a rally in front of Parliament on Saturday.

Extreme rhetoric comes from different minority groups.

Ghahraman, who came to NZ from Iran as a refugee as a child, said on Saturday night that she was concerned that racist rhetoric was becoming more common place in mainstream New Zealand politics. ​”We are seeing this insidious racism creep into the mainstream,” she warned. “It’s important to note the Holocaust was the most harrowing of crimes against humanity.”

Unsurprisingly Israelis are unhappy with the speeches.

Juliet Moses, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Council, said the fact an Iran Government representative was making such inflammatory statements was concerning. “It’s not a great surprise in one sense, because statements like this come from Iranian leaders all the time, but when those words are being spoken in New Zealand it’s a very different matter,” she explained.

“What audience is being spoken to here and what are they believing and what messages are they taking from that? Clearly Islamist terrorism is becoming more frequent in Western countries, and Jews are essentially at the coalface.”

Moses said she hoped the Government would investigate and take action against Ghahremani. “Expulsion might be an option.”

Expulsion is always an option, but I don’t know if it is justified in this case.

What if the Auckland Council put this much effort into housing and transport?

The Auckland Council employs 234 communications staff at a cost of $45 million. They seem intent on talking about what they might do – perhaps a lot of these resources would be better targeted at actually doing, especially on challenging issues like housing and transport.

NZH: $45m bill for communications at Auckland Council

Auckland ratepayers are picking up a $45.6 million tab to run communication departments, employing 234 staff, at Auckland Council and five council-controlled organisations, according to a leaked review.

A “confidential draft” of the review, obtained by the Weekend Herald, has uncovered a huge blowout in communication salary costs at four council bodies.

Between 2013 and 2017, salary costs soared by 75 per cent at Auckland Council, 87 per cent at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) and 56 per cent at Auckland Transport.

Salary costs rose by 104.5 per cent at Panuku Development Auckland, which was formed in September 2015 from the merger of Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Property Ltd.

Just on ‘communications’?

The actual dollar figures of the communications salary totals, including the rises, at the council-controlled organisations are not included in the report, or available at this time.

The Communications & Engagement review includes media and communications, marketing, research and consultation staff.

Consultation with ratepayers is important, as is marketing, but 234 staff sounds a lot.

The review is one of four ‘value for money’ reviews commissioned by Auckland Council as Mayor Phil Goff strives to find savings and efficiencies in the council’s budget – one of his key election campaign pledges.

The findings of the review will confirm Goff’s concerns during last year’s mayoral campaign that there are too many communications staff at council and “way above what it could be”.

According to the communications review, a previous business case to improve communications at Auckland Council in 2014 largely failed. The 2014 goal was to reduce the number of communications staff to 92. Staff numbers have increased to 105.

The business case recommended council develop a strategy for communications and engagement. “No strategy has been developed,” the latest review said.

The review said there is no formal communications strategy across the council and CCOs. It calls for a strategy to achieve a co-ordinated, consistent and collaborative approach.

It also called for cost savings of 5 per cent a year for the next three years.

After a 2014 business case to reduce staff they instead increase staff and costs by 56% to 104.5%. Targeting a reduction of 5% seems lame and hard to have confidence in.