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Hubbard sure polls not key to great buildings
Thursday November 23, 2006
By David Eames

Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard is not sure what passed for opinion polls in days gone by, but he is confident that, had they existed, a number of the world's greatest public works would never have been built.

"History shows us very clearly that with polls, most of the major infrastructure would not occur ... on a poll basis, Paris would not have an Eiffel Tower, Sydney no Opera House and Auckland no Grafton Bridge."

A Herald-DigiPoll survey showing 50 per cent of respondents favoured a redeveloped Eden Park over a waterfront stadium did not trouble Mr Hubbard, who yesterday said there had been "inconsistent pictures" drawn throughout the stadium debate.

He said a poll of 751 was a "relatively small sample for an issue such as this", and a DigiPoll was but one of "15 to 20 significant items" to examine when deciding on a stadium.

"I certainly haven't seen anything to cause me to change my mind."

In a choice of venues, a waterfront stadium came third in the list of preferred options with 21.8 per cent, pipped by Eden Park on 31.1 per cent and North Harbour Stadium on 23.1 per cent.

Mr Hubbard was also not surprised by public opposition to bed taxes and departure charges, but warned they could be necessary to fund either a waterfront stadium or Eden Park.

"No one votes for a tax increase ... whatever the cause."

Sports Minister Trevor Mallard was also unmoved by the Herald-DigiPoll. Mr Mallard is out of the country, but in a prepared response from Los Angeles he said: "Polls have been wildly fluctuating since the debate began with online polls showing waterfront ahead, in contrast to television pay-for-vote polls, and they have also moved as more information has come out about the options.

"I am hopeful that the city and regional councillors can make informed decisions on their preferred choice, based on the information and briefings they have received over the last two weeks."

But Eden Park Development Committee chairman Rob Fisher was last night "very pleased" with the Herald-DigiPoll survey results, which he said were consistent with other polls running since the announcement of the waterfront proposal on November 10.

Mr Fisher said he was not surprised by North Harbour Stadium's popularity as a site option, but believed the Government would be guilty of a "complete about-face" if it became a serious contender.