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Funding fiasco
06 December 2006

On October 14 last year, New Zealand Rugby Union boss Chris Moller was thus quoted: "(we) will also be in a position to indicate to the International Rugby Board, that we are very confident that both the building of a new South Stand (at Eden Park) and the financing of it, will be achievable." A year on, the extensive work done by the NZRU and the Eden Park Trust Board is now stranded in a mire of confusion and funding issues, writes National's Eric Roy in this week's From The Beehive.

Why? Because the Government got involved. Why, a year after supporting the NZRU bid in totality, did Helen Clark push her latest sacrificial Minister, Trevor Mallard, to moot a dead-duck waterfront stadium? Could it have something to do with pushing Taito Phillip Field or any other Government embarrassment off the front pages? Or is it simply because this Government cannot deal with the real issues facing New Zealanders lower living standards, an inefficient health system, a much-derided education structure but instead chooses to play God in areas that should best be left to the private sector? The process for the waterfront stadium was flawed from the beginning. Trevor Mallard was going to push through legislation circumventing any pesky laws that might have got in his way, consultation was woefully inept (giving local bodies two weeks to make a decision 12 months after the event was awarded is nothing short of abysmal), and the Government waved an open chequebook at the project.

Auckland's roading system is the subject of derision, its electricity network is terrible and its public transport system is struggling.

In short, if the Government is saying it had $500 million to $800 million to spend on a waterfront stadium that would have had a huge ongoing appetite for local or central government subsidies, shouldn't that money now be spent on making Auckland and New Zealand work in commerce, transport, and other infrastructure?Can we have any faith in a Government that puts funding for pie in the sky ideas ahead of hospital waiting lists? Can we trust Ministers who want to push their plans through with fast-tracked laws to suit their ends? The answer to both these questions is no.

The Rugby World Cup fiasco is a monument to Labour's high-handed regard for voters. Their we know best, so shove off attitude to the public is no way to run a country. If only Mr Mallard's plans to redefine education in Southland had gone the same way as his waterfront stadium ...