National | Airport

Peters crashes Brown's airport party

Peters sympathises with the position of Auckland mayor Wayne Brown but says selling council assets is not the answer. Photo / NZME /FILE

NZ First leader Winston Peters has come out swinging against the potential sale of Auckland Airport shares by Auckland Council, warning that such a move would result in a weaker and poorer city and country.

Auckland councillors are deliberating a compromise proposal put forward by Mayor Wayne Brown, to sell just under half of the council's 19 percent stake as a means to keep rate rises below the rate of inflation.

Peters, who was famously dismissed as Treasurer by former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley due to his opposition to the sale of crown shares in Wellington Airport, says the idea that there is any borrowing to get the Auckland Airport shares is not true, they were inherited by the super city Peters told Waatea.

Peters says politicians seem unable to learn from past experiences of selling strategic assets.

"If we sell this airport, it's already substantially benefiting another economy." Peters said.

"The reason New Zealand is progressing slowly is that a significant portion of what we used to own is now controlled by the international market, which reaps most of the added value before we receive our fair share," Peters asserted.

Expressing sympathy for Mayor Wayne Brown and the financial challenges he inherited, Peters said selling assets is not the solution to the predicament.

Prior to a council vote last Thursday Waikato-Tainui lobbied central government to buy Auckland council's shareholding in the airport to settle their outstanding treaty claims in the region.

Waikato-Tainui already has significant property investments around the Auckland airport, including the Novotel International which is in the international terminal's forecourt.

Tainui's new 5-star Te Arikinui Pullman hotel also in the airport precinct is due for completion later this year.

Auckland Iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei has expressed its willingness to repurchase the Ports of Auckland in order to assist Auckland Council in tackling its substantial debt.

According to Ngarimu Blair, the deputy chairman of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the iwi has extended this offer to all former mayors of the Auckland supercity, including John Banks. The objective of this proposal is to reclaim the 55 hectares currently tied up at the Auckland waterfront.

“We have made it clear to successive Auckland mayors that we are open, willing and able to purchase council assets it is selling, such as the Ports of Auckland,” Blair said.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has refrained from making comments on either proposal as he battles for councillor backing on the selldown proposal.

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