Press Release – Councillor Cameron Brewer
Today’s revelation that neither Auckland Council’s own economic development unit nor Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) were asked to have input or to review last week’s proposal to support a $20m – $30m ratepayer investment into a whitewater rafting facility in Manukau, shows the poor process surrounding the project going from bad to worse, say Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer, who chaired today’s Economic Forum.
“At today’s forum some councillors were genuinely surprised to hear from representatives of ATEED and council’s own EDU that neither were involved in the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust and Regional Facilities Auckland’s proposal for proceeds of a council land sale to go into converting a South Auckland paddock into a whitewater rafting facility.”
Mr Brewer says that’s concerning given the controversial proposal narrowly got through last week largely off the back of all the economic development promises sold to councillors.
The report circulated to the 4 October 2012 Strategy & Finance Committee promised that the project would create 110 full-time equivalent jobs, attract 31% of its visitors from outside the Auckland region and New Zealand, act as a catalyst to attracting quality development within the surrounding area, and contribute an additional $7.4m annually to Manukau’s GDP.
“Now we learn that the compelling economic story that helped to successfully sell this project was never audited or even inputted by council’s own economic team or ATEED which employs 60 people in its economic development operations alone. That’s not good enough, particularly when you consider the proponent’s business case for this facility was completed in July last year. As councillors we need to be confident that what is promised can stand up to scrutiny and that should start with internal reviews of such big economic promises at the very least.
“I support those councillors who now want to see this project’s economic feasibility and business case peer reviewed by either council’s own economic development unit or ATEED. That needs to be done before this project becomes part of council’s draft annual plan for 2013/14.”
“This project was rejected outright by the former Manukau City Council three years ago. It then somehow escaped this council’s proper 10-year Long Term Plan budgetary process, and now we learn it has also avoided the scrutiny of council’s two economic development teams despite it being sold as an economic development project. Ratepayers should be even more worried,” says Mr Brewer.