Media Release: Banks Welcomes Relief for Homeowners

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Auckland Mayor John Banks has welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Government has agreed to a solution aimed at fixing the nation’s leaky home problem.

“This solution offers relief for the approximately 89,000 thousand distressed, depressed, financially stressed homeowners who have been affected by this problem that is of epidemic proportions.

“It is a great day for them and I hope this goes some way to easing their concerns.”

Mayor Banks joined Prime Minister John Key and Wellington’s Mayor Kerry Prendergast for the announcement in Parliament today.

“This is one of the biggest ever partnerships between central and local government but it has been needed to solve this enormous problem that potentially could cost $11.3 billion dollars.

The solution will see Government and Councils each pay 25% of the repair bill for a leaky home and the home owner 50%.

The Government has agreed to work with the banking sector in assisting with homeowner’s bill.

“I am thankful that John Key and his government have entered into negotiations with an open and willing mind. The last Government and previous Councils could not and would not deal with it. In particular, I acknowledge the tireless effort of Minister Williamson.

“This positive relationship has delivered a big win for home owners throughout the country and in particular Auckland, which has the biggest problem”

Mayor Banks has acknowledged the work of his colleague Mayor Kerry Prendergast for ‘her resolve and tireless commitment’. Both Mayors have acted as advocates for the local government sector in brokering this deal for the past 12 months.

“I made a promise in 2007 that I would work hard to get a better deal for ratepayers. It was looking like councils would be the ‘last man standing’ and forced to cough up for the majority of these huge bills. That would have been devastating and in the end financially prohibitive.”

Mayor Banks says he knows the stress that comes with owning a leaky home and he got a good indication of the problem while visiting communities across Auckland.

“I have met too many people living in leaky terraced homes and multiple units who are facing crippling bills to fix their units. You can only imagine how that feels hanging over you.”

Mayor Banks says he is happy the major investments being made by individual home owners can now go directly to ‘Bob the Builder’ and into fixing their homes instead of the pockets of lawyers.

ENDS

Media Contact: Scott Campbell 021 426 342

Poll Continues Upward Trend

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Banks – Poll Continues Upward Trend

Auckland Mayor and Super City candidate John Banks says he’s happy to be ahead in the battle for the Greater Auckland Mayoralty but that he’s not taking this support for granted.

Results from a Curia Research poll conducted over five nights last week show Mayor Banks with a 5.1% lead over his opponents, when voters were asked which Aucklander they would most like to be Mayor.

“The results are encouraging and I am glad to be in front.

Mayor Banks also holds a slight lead of 1.4%, when voters were asked who they preferred in a head to head contest with the Mayor for Manukau.

“It is going to be a tough race but I think our message of aspiration and optimism is starting to get through.

“This race is going to go down to wire. No one has any privileged position; it is about a contest of ideas and the candidate with the best credentials to make the Super City work and at this stage much more work needs to be done.

“I will continue to be a cheerleader for all communities across a Greater Auckland.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Scott Campbell 021 426 342

*Note: Poll sampled 1500 ratepayers across Auckland over five nights last week. It has a margin of error of 2.6%.

Taxi Drivers Must Feel Safe

Auckland Mayor John Banks has welcomed the indication from Transport Minister Steven Joyce that taxis will be required to have video cameras installed in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Mayor Banks says taxi drivers have the right to feel safe in their place of work and if this contributes to that, it needs to happen.

“Taxi drivers like shop keepers need to know that when they go to work, they will return home safely. Their families need the security that their loved ones won’t be harmed while they are making a living.”

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Mayor Banks says while customers will be expected to pick up the extra cost for installing the equipment he is sure they will understand the benefits.

“Why should these good citizens work in fear? Our taxi drivers are hardworking people who deliver a much needed service. If video cameras go some way to stopping this type of violence then it is well overdue.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Scott Campbell 021 426 342

Liquor Laws Should Not Penalise All

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Liquor Laws Should Not Penalise All

Auckland Mayor John Banks has welcomed the Law Commission’s report on the effects of alcohol and has praised it for recommending local communities have a say on where and when alcohol can be sold.

“The great thing about the Super City is that we can give more say to local boards so they can deal with concerns in their neighborhood.

“Local boards can help tighten liquor rules in communities where alcohol problems are obvious – for example South Auckland – and not impact on other areas that benefit from a vibrant nightlife.”

Mayor Banks says we must be careful not to punish everyone for the mishaps of a few.

“We should not use the law as a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Rather than penalise good operators with compliance costs and taxes for all, we should focus on the problem licensees and drinkers who break the rules.

“Why not have tougher penalties for those who are arrested for problem drinking or breaking the sale of liquor laws?

“In many parts of Auckland, the local restaurants and cafes are places for responsible socialising. We want to encourage this kind of good operator.”

Mayor Banks says he hopes changes to legislation will be introduced after the Rugby World Cup next year.

“If Auckland is to be a premier host city and a true internationally competitive metropolis, we must have sensible liquor licensing laws. The Rugby World Cup will be a test of whether or not we have grown up when it comes to liquor. We do not want to fail.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Scott Campbell 021 426 342

Banksie Bulletin: An international city needs international events

 

People often say to me “Banksie there are too many stadiums in Greater Auckland”. That is not the case. There are simply not enough events.

For Greater Auckland to become a world class, prosperous and economically vibrant city, we need a real focus on attracting international events to our region. We, must fill our stadiums, entice tourists and make our citizens feel proud of the place they call home.

Next year we’ll host the Rugby World Cup. The economic benefits that come from this one off 6 week event are huge. An estimated $267 million dollars will be spent in Greater Auckland alone.

But the most important benefit to our city will be long term. For 6 weeks of the tournament the world’s media will be camped among us and they will deliver our message to their people. If we make good hosts, they will visit in years to come.

Rugby World Cup has given us the opportunity to ensure we have world class facilities and stadiums. However, we can do more and I am committed to a Convention Centre.

I am also committed to bringing other major events to Greater Auckland. Events, such as the 2015 Cricket World Cup, World Masters Games in 2017, CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), the Melbourne Motors Show to name a few.

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In Auckland City we have a track record for delivering major showcases.

Our Council along with the Government recently won a bid to host a stopover for the Volvo Ocean Race. The bid cost $3 million dollars – we committed 50% each. This two week festival will be free to the public and beamed live around the world to an estimated 1.8 billion viewers in 200 countries. The last time the race stopped in Auckland in 2002, it delivered $26 million dollars to our economy. In 2012, it will be even bigger.

That’s how we make Greater Auckland a world class, prosperous and vibrant city. Big events – mean big local crowds, big tourist numbers and big dollars for our city and our businesses. It also means jobs, improved infrastructure, benefits to the environment, social and business development.

A united Council we will have a real opportunity to focus intensely on attracting more international eyes and dollars. If I am Mayor, the Economic Development, Tourism and Events Agency will have a considerable budget.

The rivalry to host major international events is more intense than ever before – 60 cities wanted to host the 2007 Americas Cup. Currently Greater Auckland’s funding dedicated to bids like this, doesn’t come close to our neighbours across the ditch.

Victoria, undoubtedly Australia’s most successful events state – led by Melbourne – has an annual budget of $96 million dollars. The Auckland region has just $12 million. This has to change.

Like Melbourne we won’t just concentrate on sports. We must become a city known for hosting exhibitions, arts and cultural. If we don’t have the infrastructure then we need to invest in it. A Super City needs super events. I am committed to bringing them.

40Below with Banksie at the Piha Cafe

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28323_389921935755_631375755_4454763_2871479_n-206x300It’s not everyday you see a Mayor in his leathers, let alone leading a convoy of Harley Davidson motorbikes out to West Auckland. The group of 12 riders, including boxer Shane Cameron left from Chapel Bar in Ponsonby to arrive out in Piha for an afternoon at the Piha Café hosted by 40 Below on Saturday 1st May.

40 Below is the young professionals group of the National Party, where younger Aucklanders regularly meet with key influencers, in a very relaxed and social environment.

There was a large turnout to see the Mayor and the Piha Café was packed. He had a very warm reception and his message of council efficiency, job creation, public transport and infrastructure was well received.

Having the event in Piha was another opportunity for Banks to reiterate his commitment to the whole of Auckland and explain how this community will benefit from an Auckland that is, (as he likes to say) “singing from the same song sheet”.

One of the things we all love about Piha is its unique community, and the Mayor was very clear that he doesn’t want this to change under the new Auckland city structure.

I was really pleased to hear more about his plans for integrated ticketing and investment in public transport, as a student it’s not easy to get around the whole Auckland area cheaply and efficiently at the moment.

Banksie’s humour was really enjoyed, especially when he offered a more senior woman a spot on a bike on the ride back to Ponsonby.

It was great to work with the 40Below team and the sponsors – Neat Meat, Charlies and MD Aluminium to make the event possible.

Emma Mellow, Campaign Youth Director

A rail Loop to Unlock Aucklands Potential

The following thinkpiece was published in the NZ Herald on 12 October 2009 on how rail improvements would help boost Auckland’s productivity – particularly in relation to constructing an inner city rail loop and doubling the throughput of the Britomart station.

I seek nothing less than Auckland becoming the aspirational capital of the South Pacific. Modern Auckland is a successful city.

It generates 34 per cent of the country’s wealth and is home to a third of the country’s population. It houses more than two-thirds of our biggest companies and is our only truly internationally competitive metropolis.

Quite simply, New Zealand needs Auckland to work, and for that to happen, it needs to work efficiently. Auckland cannot rely on roads and motorways alone to meet the region’s future transport needs, as the city’s roading network is already nearing the practical limits of expansion.
The number of trips made on Auckland’s transport system by 2051 is expected to increase by 65 per cent from 3.2 million to 5.2 million a day.

Plans for an underground rail loop from Britomart southward underneath the CBD to Mt Eden have been debated for nearly a century.

Initial economic evaluation of the CBD tunnel shows that it attracts a higher return than many major roading projects of a similar scale, particularly as rail can shift much larger numbers than any other mode.

The solution to Auckland’s transport challenges and future transport needs lies in having an integrated network that provides people with a variety of travel choices, including enhanced rail access to the central city.

The Western Ring Route, State Highway 20 and incremental improvements to other motorway networks and roads are critical. However, these improvements and the new Central Connector and development of the bus lane network will meet future demands only if we complete a fully integrated transport system, including a CBD rail loop.

The capacity of Britomart at peak times would potentially more than double to 40 trains per hour, if it were a through-station. These are compelling reasons why we need to push through Britomart, up under Albert St, beneath Karangahape Rd and on to Mt Eden and Kingsland.
Because of its higher capacity, rail is the most effective and efficient way of providing for Auckland’s growth in travel demand, especially to the congested CBD.

The proposed CBD tunnel will dramatically improve accessibility to downtown Auckland, as it will:
Provide two additional central CBD stations, creating excellent direct rail access to CBD commercial, employment, shopping and cultural activities.

Remove the constraint at Britomart, allowing dramatically improved train frequencies on the whole rail system.

Investment in the CBD rail loop delivers less congestion and agglomeration benefits that will benefit the whole region.

This equals growth in economic productivity and to New Zealand heading back to the top half of the OECD.

For example, good quality inner-city public transport makes great city centres more accessible and supports new, high-value jobs for people from throughout the region.

This CBD loop is no ordinary transport project. This project looks ahead 100 years, to the kind of centre a true super city aspires to.

Super cities all over the world have strong centres and with vision, good design and a sound business case, this project unlocks the potential of Auckland’s centre by enabling much greater access from all parts of the region. This will reinforce the existing role of central Auckland as a regional destination for workers, students and residents and it will cater for the projected growth in the size and intensity of the centre of Greater Auckland.

Enhancing access through a CBD rail loop is critical to the central area’s contribution to lifting the entire region’s (and therefore the country’s) economic performance.

This rail loop is more than a rail link. It is a transformational economic development project at the centre of the new Super City.

Think of London’s Circle Line and of other examples, like Sydney, where the centre acts as a hub for the transport network for the whole region.

Let’s come to the crunch. I clearly understand that this Government is cash-strapped and staring in the face of mountainous debt.

The currently estimated cost of a CBD rail loop is between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. If the rail loop is not constructed, we do have a good handle on that cost, which includes further road and motorway construction to meet demand (at least $3.3 billion for roading and additional parking capacity, according to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s latest estimate).

Of course we cannot nail all of these figures precisely. However I am confident that informed citizens of Auckland are united in their belief that a CBD rail loop is a good idea.

Making local boards work for you

 

The following is a thinkpiece submitted to the NZ Herald on January 20 2010, showing how local boards could work well for communities and return local decision-making back to local residents under the new Auckland Council.

One of the most crucial issues facing us as we head towards creating a Greater Auckland is how we retain and strengthen the voice of our many different communities.

Local boards must have the power, the influence, responsibilities and the budget to meet the needs of their residents and ratepayers.

The guiding principle of the council I would be privileged to lead at the end of this year is that local boards should be the people to deal with issues that relate to their local community.

This means Greater Auckland councillors can concentrate on the “big picture” while local boards keep their ear to the ground and look after the needs of their suburbs and neighbourhoods.

For example, while listening to people’s concerns I have heard loud and clear that some communities are worried about the impact of off-licence liquor outlets. We need to give your local board the ability to decide liquor policy for your area.

If people in Manukau are worried there are too many corner booze shops, then the local boards should have the power to decide numbers and liquor licence applications. If, say, Glenfield wants more wine shops or licensed cafes then, again, it’s the local board there that should decide.

By giving the power on this kind of issue to local boards, communities can make the call where there are negative effects from alcohol sales without affecting those other areas of the city that want to maintain their vibrancy and late-night culture.

Currently Auckland City community boards get money for local improvements (called Slips) that fund playgrounds, tree planting, public artworks and other projects that the boards choose to do. Those community boards also have modest discretionary budgets that let them fund community activities, charities and public events in their areas.

We need to expand on this system, the new local boards need bigger Slips and discretionary funding, so that spending in your neighbourhood is decided at the grassroots, not at the town hall on Queen St.

The local boards will need the authority and the budget to service the needs of their communities. A great example of this is where local boards in South Auckland have a policy of free entry to ratepayer-funded swimming pools. Elsewhere councils provide partially funded entry to pools.

It should be the local board that decides whether the pools are free or not. The Greater Auckland Council should establish a baseline subsidy as part of providing fair and equitable services across the region, and then the local boards should decide whether or not they top up the subsidy from their own discretionary budgets or spend that money on other priorities.

The whole city should not fund free pools in one area and not in others. Why should a retired ratepayer in Orewa pay for free pools in Manurewa when they can’t access them, even if they wanted to?

Under this system, if your local board listens to what you and your neighbours say and decides to have free pools, then the subsidy will come from your local rates.

Local boards could have targeted rates that apply to specific projects and services that their community want.

Ratepayers will need to know who is seeking your money, for what purpose, how much and why. The local boards will need to be accountable and communicate directly with you through local papers and dedicated local board website pages.

I am talking about real grassroots democracy when it comes to how your rates are spent at a local level.

It is vital the Auckland Council staff support your local boards becoming a success.

That is why I want the performance of the new council’s chief executive to be assessed on his or her ability to deliver on local board satisfaction and effectiveness.

The mayor’s office needs to liaise directly with the local boards, independent of the Auckland Council organisation, so as to stay in touch with local issues. The mayor of a Greater Auckland must be the mayor for every community across our region.

The new Auckland Council and your local boards will need to be clearly focused on the needs and aspirations of your community and on delivering value for your rates.

Strong local boards and an Auckland Council that supports them is the best way to deliver a Greater Auckland.

Banksie Support 40hour Famine Team

photo-225x300This year World Vision have four teams headed by local personalities to encourage participation in the 40 Hour Famine.

Yesterday we had a visit to the Mayoral office from the leader of the ‘Blue Revolution’ team, Shortland Street star Ido Drent.

Banksie is backing Ido and the Blue Team’s efforts to fundraise during the famine weekend of 21-23rd May (see the video below).

For more information on the Ido’s team and the Famine check out: http://www.famine.org.nz/team/ido

– Emma Mellow, Youth Director

 

ANZAC Day – Dawn Parade Speech

Hon. John Banks was a good Auckland mayor in his time.
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Hon. John Banks
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25 April 2010

Media Release

Dawn Parade Speech – A Day to Honour and Reflect

Tena Koutou Katoa

Nga mate

Haere, haere, haere

At this time, on this day, 95 years ago, New Zealand soldiers were in a fight for their lives on the shores of ANZAC Cove.

Members of the Auckland Infantry Battalion were the first to land that fateful day. They were among the onslaught of three thousand New Zealanders.

By night fall six hundred were dead.

The Gallipoli campaign caused profound misery and palpable grief. Our casualties were enormous.

Everyone knew someone who would never return.

Our soldiers stood proudly in the face of dangerous fire and grave adversity.

It has been said, our nation, was then born.

While Gallipoli is often the focus of our remembrance day, we cannot forget other battles that left scars on our nationhood – The Somme, Messines, and Passchendaele.

Soldiers, some as young as 14, enlisted in the name of patriotism.

Some, in innocence, that an adventure awaited them.

Others, simply to escape the clutches of depravation. Whatever it was, none could have imagined their awful destiny.

As Lance Corporal Lawrence Sarten wrote of his battle at Passchendaele:

Dear Mother. It is my birthday, but you would not know that I am in hospital seriously wounded. I was hit recently during a big advance.

I was digging in to consolidate our new front line when, a high explosive shell burst almost in my face. The boy digging a foot or two off me was blown to pieces.

I thought my time had come. I lay there for 25 hours, before I was carried out.

Thank God for my marvellous escape. Your loving son, Lawrence.

New Zealanders, young and weary, assemble today to salute the gallantry of our soldiers and renew our debt and gratitude.

We do not seek to glorify war; rather we are here to honour and reflect on the service that so many men and women gave to our country.

As the sun rises this morning we turn our eyes to the glory which surrounds the memory of those who died for this nation, in the honourable pursuit of peace.

Today New Zealanders are greeted with affection on the shores of ANZAC Cove instead of machine gun fire.

A bridge of peace, friendship and love has been built between the opposing sides now.

The words of famous Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal – leave us all with hope.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore Rest in Peace.

You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons.”

2721 New Zealanders made the ultimate sacrifice at Gallipoli.

1669 have no known graves.

Some say the real victims were those who survived the Great War, World War Two, Korea and Vietnam and forever lived with their memories.

We exalt honour and salute them.

This morning I acknowledge a special survivor of World War Two.

A patriot I had the privilege of meeting recently at the reunion of the 28th Maori Battalion.

At 101 Bill Williams, formerly of Panmure, signifies everything great about this nation.

His fight – has long been.

He struggles now to stand, as he once did – so strongly.

He struggles to see, as he once saw – so clearly.

Yet he continues to join to honour his fallen mates.

Lance Corporal Bill Williams – We salute you.

I salute also Bill’s few remaining mates of the 28th Maori Battalion. Their story is one of great pride, sacrifice and mana.

Lieutenant-General Bernard Freyberg, Commander of the 2nd New Zealand Division, said that:

“No infantry battalion had a more distinguished record, or saw more fighting, or, alas, had such heavy casualties as the Maori Battalion.”

Over 90 years have passed since the ‘War to End All Wars’ yet we are still in a world beset by suffering, hatred and inequality.

Our men and women in uniform continue to serve across the globe today. We pray for their safe return.

ANZAC Day is a time to commemorate but also to celebrate…

It is also a day to focus on unity, nationhood, friendship and family.

As we gather at this cenotaph in front of a memorial built in 1929 to honour every New Zealander who served and died in battle, I am reminded of these immortal words written high on the walls inside – etched into the granite.

“Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

Lest We Forget.