The background to the conference included the Cyclone Debbie aftermath, the programme coincided with the passage of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill through Parliament, and included a political forum attended by many members of NZ's Local Govt and Environment Select Ctte (Scott Simpson, David Parker, Eugenie Sage, Denis O'Rourke and Marama Fox). Delegates also had the opportunity of hearing from Murray Sherwin of the Productivity Commission (about its Better Urban Planning report and recommendations - which, btw, appears to be attracting cross party support), and from MBIE and MfE officials on proposed urban development authority legislation; and implementation programmes for the NPS on Urban Development Capacity. Not forgetting excellent keynotes including three that I'll report in this set of postings from Prof David Frame, Shamubeel Eaqub, and Chris Aitken. (btw that's me after a Wgtn haircut and pre conference dinner)
Of these presentations, the phrase that continues to stick oin my mind - especially after reading NZ Herald's lengthy Saturday report about how broken Auckland is - is this - from Chris Aitken's presentation, where he examines what is happening to housing in the western world:
- The politics of real estate dealing with a world growing to 9 billion people needing shelter and chasing the Western dream
- 1.6 billion locked out of home ownership globally
- A massive unplanned shift of capital and people to the West from developing Nations is consuming the developed world infrastructure
- This change is largely unfunded
Stare at that for a bit - especially the last two points and think about what is happening to Auckland especially as a wave of wealthy immigration arrives. Over decades Auckland citizens have painfully and painstakingly built up its infrastructure: roads, pipes, schools, hospitals and communities. It's all infrastructure. Auckland - in common with Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Vancouver - are at the heart of what Chris is talking about. Wealthy families from India and China in particular are buying their way into those cities which share in common the extraordinary statistic that over 40% of those city populations were born in other countries. Here in NZ the main economic statistic that measures what is happening to Auckland is the 2-3% GDP growth figure. As others have noted increasingly it's central government that benefits from this population growth. And it's the local populations that are required to live with the consequences as its shared infrastructure gets consumed and filled by people who didn't build it.....