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National MPs say they are none the wiser about the Government's waterfront stadium plans
Friday November 17, 2006

National MPs say they are none the wiser about the Government's waterfront stadium plans after a meeting with Sport Minister Trevor Mallard this morning.

Deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said the four MPs did not get many answers to their questions.

He said: "Unfortunately, we have left the meeting none the wiser about potential costs of the waterfront and with, I guess, a number of questions still hanging over."

Mr Brownlee told Newstalk ZB it was unsatisfactory that the actual cost of the stadium would not be known until it was actually built.

The deadline for building any new stadium was confirmed today when the International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed the tournament will be played during September and October 2011.

Mr Brownlee also said he was "a bit disappointed" that Auckland City Council had not yet expressed its view on a preferred stadium, though he noted their deadline was not until next week.

>> Mallard shifts goalposts in stadium-decision countdown

Mr Mallard yesterday held a series of meetings with city and regional representatives who must make the choice by next Friday between a new waterfront stadium or an upgraded Eden Park to host the 2011 World Cup final.

Mr Mallard today said he was unsure which way Auckland's councillors would go. Yesterday he said reaction was mixed.

"Some people strongly support the waterfront and some strongly support Eden Park, and some would prefer neither," Mr Mallard said.

"Obviously in my head I've been trying to do some counts ... but I'm not going to place a bet on it -- it's not like the All Blacks are going to beat France."


Meanwhile, Mr Mallard has said putting a waterfront stadium project out to tender would add six months to its construction -- pushing it out beyond Rugby World Cup deadlines.

Critics of the proposed 60,000-seat Auckland stadium say the Government's awarding of the contract to Fletcher Construction -- if the project gets the green light -- without any tender process could be like writing a blank cheque to the company.

They say the move breaks public finance guidelines and sets a poor precedent.

But Mr Mallard today said tendering the project would take an extra six months, ruling it out.

"It would add six months on to the project to go through a normal tender process for the building of that platform. That would mean that you just...couldn't do it," Mr Mallard said on National Radio.

He said awarding the contract without tender was unusual, but not illegal.

Contracting arrangements were managed by guidelines and Treasury legal officials would be involved in making sure the contracting process was legal.

"Both the cost containment part of it, which is my big priority and probity which is also very important will be watched by people who have expertise in both construction finance and the law."

Public law specialist and former Act MP Stephen Franks today said the proposed contract set a poor precedent, but was probably not illegal.

"The general principle with major and minor works is that it should go out to tender, it should be a competitive process and its supposed to, under our free-trade agreements extend to companies from Australia and Singapore," he said on National Radio.