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Locke criticises process for Park decision
Tuesday November 21, 2006

Green MP Keith Locke says Government plans for a new stadium for the Rugby World Cup are potentially unconstitutional.

In Parliament today he quoted constitutional law expert Bill Hodge who said plans to override other legislation could damage the constitution.

Mr Locke asked acting Rugby World Cup Minister Michael Cullen if the Government was willing to ram through a waterfront stadium by requiring legislation that Dr Hodge said would "override almost every law it came across, including the Local Government Act and the Public Finance Act as well as the Treaty of Waitangi".

Dr Cullen said either the waterfront or Eden Park revamp option would require "resource consents delivered through special legislative mechanisms in order to ensure certainty of completion of the venue in time for the event" in 2011.

"I note that the National Party has already committed to support such legislation with respect to Eden Park," he said.

Mr Locke said the Government was forcing Auckland City and the Auckland Regional Council to break the law by imposing the two-week time limit for the decision -- which ends on Friday.

"And thereby not allowing time for the formal consultative process mandatory under the Local Government Act such as having development options open for public inspections, inviting submissions and holding public hearings."

Dr Cullen said that was not his view.

"We've asked for views from Auckland City Council, the Auckland Regional Council as to what their preference would be. It doesn't mean to say that other processes would not follow in either case."

Also the special legislation to speed up consents would go through proper Parliamentary processes.

Act MP Heather Roy asked if the Government would look at retrospective legislation if a concerned citizen injuncted either council over lack of consultation.

Dr Cullen said an injunction on a council would not affect Parliament.

"If Dr Hodge wants to take on Parliamentary sovereignty I invite him to do so."

National leader Don Brash told Parliament estimates released by the Eden Park Trust Board put stadium costs at more than $900 million.

Dr Cullen said further work would need to be done once an option was decided and information would be released.

Dr Brash asked if it was true there was a Government proposal to charge a $10 per head Auckland international airport departure tax to raise about $27m a year.

"A sum too small to pay even the interest on the regional contribution if the estimate of $900m is to believed."

Dr Cullen said neither stadium option had a fully costed budget or explanation of how it would be paid.

Dr Brash asked if the government would pay $175m towards the waterfront option and what the Eden Park option would get.

Dr Cullen said the first figure was correct but there had been no proposal for the second yet.

"Clearly by far the cheapest option is Jade Stadium. All the facts will come into the public arena as and when available."

The Government has threatened to go for an upgrade at Jade in Christchurch if Auckland could not decide.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples asked what impact the stadium would have on agreements with Maori.

Dr Cullen revealed that the Ministry of Economic Development had met Ngati Whatua o Orakei representatives who had said they had limited interest in port land but further discussions would be held if the waterfront option was chosen.