Public-private partnership considered

Last updated 08:24 28/11/2013

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Auckland Council is considering a public-private partnership to fund building the city's infrastructure.

Mayor Len Brown Brown today released a position paper which includes international examples of where public-private partnerships have or haven't worked, and why.

It also listed dozens of projects in Auckland, including large-scale projects like the City Rail Link and small projects like upgrading the city's parking meters.

Brown has asked council staff to use the framework presented in his position paper to create a work programme through which the council and wider community can "have a good hard look at all the options and apply the ones that will deliver real benefits for Aucklanders".

Brown said public-private partnerships could relieve the financial burden on the city's ratepayers and taxpayers.

"As the country's largest and fastest growing city, we have the need for both major investment in infrastructure and finding new, innovative and fiscally responsible ways for this to be delivered."

"Ever dollar we invest in capital projects - and there will be many billions - need to make economic sense and be backed by a robust business case."

The "traditional procurement and delivery models" could not help fund the infrastructure that Auckland needs.

Brown added that one of the benefits of the city's amalgamation in 2010 was to create the scale to make public-private partnerships at a civil possible for the first time.

"Will public-private partnerships seek to take advantage of the private sector expertise and efficiency, a key difference ... is that in most successful public-private partnership models, ownership is retained by the public sector while the risk falls to the private sector," said Brown.

"That is important for a city like Auckland, where we are seeking to deliver on social as well as economic aspirations through our infrastructure investments."

Brown now wants to kick-start a process of looking at options that might work for the city and that would clearly define the public-private partnership models - and what they can and can't deliver.

He added that he called for a "warts-and-all assessment" of the public-private partnership models so that Auckland Council doesn't miss opportunities, but also so "we don't trip up".

"If Auckland is to be ambitious and prudent, we need to be smart too. While our balance sheet is strong, it cannot sustain the pressure of the magnitude of investment Auckland needs. And the same is true of the Government," he said.

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